Methodology matters. Last night I had one of those moments that reminded me again that a structured research interview is not just a conversation.
I was on the phone with an IT manager talking about a product he had used for about a year. His experiences were bad. He had harsh things to say about the product, the implementation, and the lack of business results. He had been articulate and forceful about his frustrations, so when I got to the “would you ever recommend or purchase this product again” question I was confident the answer would be a resounding “NO! NEVER! NOT EVER!”.
I was wrong. In fact, my participant had changed jobs in the past two weeks and he had already spoken to his new management about purchasing the product – the exact same terrible one we’d been discussing. I was really surprised and asked again to make sure I’d understood. It turned out that while he didn’t like the product and thought it was terrible, it was still much better than nothing. But I needed to ask the question to figure that out.
In a social conversation, it’s ok to project and draw conclusions. You end up with a more interesting exchange. But in a research interview, you can’t. It’s too important to understand all angles. So always ask the question, even if you are confident you know the answer.