So when it comes to evaluating the performance of an organization's process or software, it's no
surprise managers want the task completed as if they're ripping off a Band-Aid: very quickly and
without opening wounds. Often times this means glossing over deep discussions with the employees who
rely on these very processes and software day in, and day out.
But let's slow down.
Why do managers want to skip an opportunity to better understand a problem their team members face?
In our experience, it's because managers are concerned that employees will use the time for user
interviews to complain about the process, the managers or the work itself.
The honest truth is that user interviews, when well-planned and executed, yield valuable insights
that help UX designers discover solutions—all without the negative talk or gossip to make
better CX decisions through user interviews.
When it comes to conducting user interviews, an experienced and savvy UX researcher knows how to coax
out the most valuable feedback on employees' work and software experiences. They'll dismiss any
information that does not pertain to actual work processes or project goals, and they're even savvy
at deviating away from a conversation that has gone from facts to attacks.
So how can you be rest assured that your user interviews are gathering valuable feedback and
eliminating the gossip? Here are our four tips:
1. Ask your researcher to provide you with a plan
A good UX researcher will always prepare a plan before conducting any interviews. This plan lays out
the goals of their research and interviews, including a survey of questions to ask users.
A user interview without a plan is like going to a new country without a map. You can of course
travel without a map, but it will likely take more time and some unwanted diversions to get to your
2. Review and discuss the survey before user interviews.
An excellent researcher is always willing to provide and discuss the survey with stakeholders. If
there are any questions that seem inadequate, talk to the researcher to understand their intention
and goals behind a question. After a discussion, decide whether to modify or remove the question
from the survey.
When reviewing the survey, make sure the questions are worded to elicit answers specific to the work
process and software. For example, "Amy, what do you struggle with at work the most?" is
ambiguous compared to "Amy, what do you struggle with the most when using Excel to calculate the
number of parts?" The former allows Amy to discuss any aspect of work, while the latter
invites her to share specific opportunities to make her happier and more productive.
3. Listen to a random voice recording or video from the user interview.
If you want to know that employee discussions are focused on valuable feedback, simply review the
interviews. Your researcher will be happy to provide you with a session recording or notes. With
user research projects such as this, those recordings and interviews should be available to
User interviews should be transparent while honoring the interviewee's anonymity as much as possible.
In projects with a large number of interviewees, your researcher can simply present research notes
and recordings with an alias to accomplish this. If your research has a small number of interviews,
then the delivery method of the research should ideally be balanced to optimize the degree of
anonymity that can be extended to your team.
4. Keep the interviews confidential.
Confidentiality should be the number one priority of any UX researcher. Any information collected
during the research phase can be presented to the stakeholder as a research report. Its purpose is
intended to help designers create the best software experiences for your team. You decide if the
findings are made public or shared internally with the rest of the team.
Honest feedback from a researcher
There is so much to uncover when it comes to assessing a user's experience with a product, and it
often comes with tight timelines and budgets. Getting any other information that is not relevant to
the project makes for extra work on our end. So trust us, when it comes to collecting user feedback,
we want to stick to a plan and get straight to the point.