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Building Trust Between Humans and Machines

Just as you would with a colleague, products also need to build relationships with users.

Whenever we talk to people to learn about their problems, they almost always start off with skepticism and reserved answers. Only through showing genuine interest, giving them something in return, and providing feedback to them are users disarmed enough to share more intimate details. Though this is traditionally a rather human interaction, the same technique should apply to the interactions you build with users via technology.

  • Showing genuine interest. In Ask Only the Right Questions, we address the questions to focus on to learn who your users are and what pains they have. The short of it is that people love being asked about problems important to them, and your interest in them ensures they’ll tell you what you want to know.

  • Give something in return. We cannot stress this one enough: a survey or form only takes from you, but in a real conversation both sides learn something new. To emulate this in our product’s interactions, we always find a specific piece of information that users want to know, which often becomes part of the carrot in our marketing to bring in users. For example, we have used “Connect with others in your organization who are facing the same problem.”

  • Give feedback to your users. This is simple, but it is also easy to miss. After you’ve gathered insights from a community and leadership has decided what actions to take with the collected data, share all of this with the community as soon as possible. It can be a simple email that summarizes what you learned and what you are doing in response. We like to take it a step further.

We leverage our conversational interface to re-engage with the community and tell each user what we learned as it relates to what they told us. They learn how their problem was prioritized and what else people with similar problems are experiencing. We also take this opportunity to ask if they want to help solve any of the problems, and how they’d like to be involved.

Building trust with users in this way enables you to continue the conversation over time, making it less important to get all the data you need from them in one shot. It also encourages users to proactively come talk with your technology instead of trying to convince them. This rapidly increases opportunities for viral growth.

Building and maintaining trust is paramount, but it’s equally as important to get the questions you ask right.

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