How to prepare for Preference interviews
  2. Preference Interviews (Step 3)
  3. How to prepare for Preference interviews

4. Strategies for narrowing the number of outcomes

Answers to 5 common questions when finalizing the outcomes you'll use in Preference interviews.

Here are some common questions teams face when narrowing the final list of outcomes they’ll explore in Preference interviews:

1. What if we have less than just a few outcomes? You can still conduct Preference interviews with a small number of outcomes. But seriously consider using all getting to 10 at least: Preference interviews give you a wonderful opportunity to know the mind of the customer. Some outcomes you thought might be inconsequential could be quite important to them… and thus very helpful for you to understand.

2. What is the maximum number of outcomes we can have?  The software caps you out at 90. However, you should keep it below 50 as a maximum and in practice, you should try to be below 30. The advantage of having more is that we can get ratings on more detail and context. However, the disadvantage is that it takes longer for a customer to participate in either a Preference Interview or a Preference Survey. 

3. What if we know we can’t improve an outcome? Commonly, one or more outcomes may be “out of reach” for your company to improve with a new solution. It’s a judgment call on whether you should include such an outcome. Here are the advantages of each approach:

  • Leave it in: Even if you can’t fix an outcome, it can provide a good “reference point” Market Satisfaction Gap… to help you understand the relative importance of the outcomes you can fix. If the Market Satisfaction Gap is high enough, perhaps you’ll make a strategic decision to seek a business acquisition (for new capabilities) or conduct technology in-licensing.
  • Leave it out: This gives you more room to include outcomes that you can improve. If you take this approach, tell customers that you omitted an outcome and why: “We wanted to focus only on those outcomes where we might be able to bring you some real improvement.”

4. Should we include an outcome customers didn’t mention? You typically would not… but here’s an exception: For years, your boss has been saying, “I’m sure customers want Outcome X.” To settle this once and for all, include it in your list of 10 and see how customers rate it.

5. Can we do two Preference interviews at the same time? We call this the "two-pass" Preference interview. Let’s say you’d like to examine two quite close scenarios. For example:

  • Ratings for today… and how the customer will feel in 5 years.
  • Ratings for paint used by homeowners… and the same paint used by paint contractors.

Pick the most important scenario (say “today”) and get your 1-to-10 ratings from the customer. Then ask, “If you repeated these ratings for a scenario 5 years from now, which ratings would you change… and to what?

Where do your record customers' revised ratings for the second scenario? Enter these in the "comments" section below the ratings slider bars, and only make entries when customers would change an importance or satisfaction rating. Later you can create an entirely new Preference interview for this customer and enter all their relevant data for this alternate scenario.