There are many methods that help a respondent tell their story other than the in-depth interview.
At the heart of UX research is determining how well the user’s needs are being met by a given product. It’s often very effective to instead of relying upon strictly conversation-based research to extend the methodologies to include activities that will use more creative means to gain insight.
This is particularly effective at getting to a user’s “pre-service mindset,” that is, who they are and what they’re experiencing before they interact with a product.
Getting a respondent to go beyond thinking aloud is a great way to have them deliver a richer, more robust type of feedback. In the above example, we see various states of mind, emotions (good and bad) and touch points throughout the month.
This kind of rich information helps tell the user’s story and gives the researcher insight into some of the outside factors that affect their interactions with the product or service.
When asking a respondent to be creative, it’s often met with anxiety. More often than not they’ll say “Oh, I can’t draw,” or “I’m not very good at doing visual things.” With a little encouragement, these very same respondents can provide staggeringly helpful feedback on products and services.
Here a furled brow and a long pause give the moderator a great jumping off point for why they experience discomfort with a certain step. What comes out of this type of activity is the ability to see the product through the user’s eyes and often without them having to struggle to put it into words.