Product finder tips
3 min
reading time

🤨 Bad and good questions for your product finder

Written by
Simon van Duivenvoorde
Published on
16/12/2023

Bad questions don't make a decision aid anything other than a filter: hard product specifications (firm, regular, soft) are presented to the customer without explaining what they mean or deliver. A good decision aid is based on use cases.

Questions are the basis of every decision aid. The basis of a good decision aids are good questions — and the corresponding good answer options. But what makes a question good? To understand that, we first look at bad questions.

Bad Questions and Answers

Questions about the desired contents of a washing machine, the location of the engine on an electric bike, power of a drill, the amount of computer memory, the height of a walking shoe, the number of stroller wheels or the desired detergent substance (liquid, powder, capsule, tablet, oil or drops?) are bad. This is also the case with this question from the running shoe finder from Mizuno:

Do you want firm, regular or soft cushioning?

Bad questions are nothing more than a filter: hard product specifications (firm, regular, soft) are presented to the customer without explaining what they mean or deliver. People are clearly not thinking from the point of view of use cases.

We also often see technical language or jargon. However, consumers are not experts. You can't assume that they can handle this. The experts at Canon undoubtedly know what a versatile lens is. And why a portable lens can't also be versatile. But as a customer, I think this question comes from them lens selector: 'hûh?! '

Good questions and answers

A good question embodies and is based on the user's knowledge, language and situation. Good questions are questions that people not only understand, but they also understand the benefits of. And so they are happy to answer for you. The corresponding response options are also recognisable and understandable. That's what we've come up with use cases for.

If you need a new mixer for your kitchen, a question is about “how many gallons should the mixing bowl be?” a bad question. To answer that question, you need extensive knowledge of the product and an understanding of how your wishes and situation translate into a number in liters. So difficult.

What does work is to ask who you often bake for. This is situational, understandable and requires no knowledge of the product. So that's how KitchenAid has done it in their mixer finder:

KitchenAid is actually asking here: how many litres should the capacity of your mixing bowl be? But they're asking the question as a use case by focusing on the size of the group you're baking for. That also feels nice right away.

Canon also wants to ask them in this question lens selector actually find out a technical specification. Namely, whether you need extensive image stabilization. By empathizing with the photographer (the chosen media also help with this), that question suddenly becomes dummy-proof.

What is also striking: good questions are often asked in the form of an I statement. Although, by the way, this is not mandatory.

Ready to get started? Then translate your specifications into use cases, because that's how you make good questions instead of bad ones!

From specifications to use cases

Happy (guided) selling!

This article is adapted from a chapter that appeared earlier in our book: Customers who are unsure don't buy. About why e-commerce is broken and why 'advice' is the missing puzzle piece in the e-commerce landscape. Both theory and practice are discussed because six leading Dutch brands (e.g. Bever, Swiss Sense and MediaMarkt) share their lessons.

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