Everyday VOC probing skills
  2. Everyday VOC
  3. Everyday VOC probing skills

3. Advanced "What" questions: SALT method

When you use "What-Why-Clarify" probing, the "What" questions can be difficult. But the SALT method can help.

You generally ask "What" questions first to understand what the customer wants to have happen. Then your "Why" questions teach you why customers want this outcome. These are questions of observation and implication, respectively. You'll find the What-Why-Clarify methodology summarized in your Everyday VOC Guide, downloadable at www.aimclientcenter.com.

Most interviewers find the "Why" questions to be quite easy... and somewhat "universal":

  • "How does this impact you?"
  • "Why is this important?"
  • "Why is this a problem for you?"
  • "Can you tell me why you want this?" 

But interviewers can get stumped coming up with good "What" questions. Some common questions are... "Can you describe this?"... or "When does this happen?" Our SALT method gives you many more possibilities. This is a collection of "What" questions that fall into four categories:

  • S for SENSES: What would this look like... sound like... feel like... etc.?
  • A for ACTORS: What people, things, interactions and environment are involved?
  • L for LOCATION: Where, where from/to, how big/many, and what shape?
  • T for TIMING: When, how often, how long and what next/order?

You can download a 2-page PDF called SALT Probing Method at www.aimclientcenter.com > BlueTools > Conduct Discovery Interviews/Tours for more details on these questions. 

SALT Probing

Be sure to check out page 2 of this PDF. You'll see 19 example questions that might be useful if you were interviewing business travelers on their use of taxis. Here are some examples of the Timing questions:

  • When: When are the taxi queues usually the longest?
  • How often: How often is the seat belt missing?
  • How long: How long does it take to get through an airport taxi queue like that?
  • What next/order: What happens after the driver refuses your credit card?

To take your probing skills to "the next level," practice these questions with colleagues internally. Then consider taking the SALT Probing Method sheet with you on your customer calls. It's especially easy to use this with virtual VOC (web-conference interviews)... when you can glance at these suggested questions without anyone noticing.


Keywords: SALT, SALT method, Senses, Actors, Location, Timing, What and Why, What questions, advanced probing, Discovery interview probing, interview questions