Focusing with service improvement focus groups
By Ron Kaufman
Focus groups require planning and expertise but they can be a gold-mine of valuable service improvement ideas, insights and suggestions.
Bring together a group of selected customers for a sincere, open-ended conversation.
Set them at ease and get them talking about the service they like, don’t like or wish they could receive from your business. Here are some questions to get you started. Pick the ones you think will create the most engaging conversations.
- What do you value most about the service we provide?
- What else do you find important when we serve you?
- What could we do that would create even more value for you?
- What might we do that you would be glad to pay more for?
- Is there anything we should start doing, stop doing, do more of, or do less of, to serve you better?
- What might cause you to leave us and go to another service organization?
- What are other organizations doing to serve you that you think we could do, too?
- What else would you like to tell us that I have not already asked you about?
- If you could change one aspect of our service, what would it be?
- If you could wave a wand and make one requirement or current problem go away, what would you make disappear?
- If you had to choose between more of X or less of Z, which would you select and why?
Be clear in advance which questions you want the group to answer. Do you want comments on your current service, or advance feedback about your future plans? Do you want to know more about your customer’s changing needs, or your competitor’s current service?
Consider using a short presentation or storyboard to communicate key ideas and get the conversation rolling. Engage a good facilitator to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and the conversation stays on track.
Throughout the session, don’t defend, justify or argue with your invited participants. Keep asking good questions and take a lot of notes. You’ll gain more value by listening to what they have to share than by explain your current position.
After the focus group is over, thank your customers with a sincere note and a small gift to express your appreciation. Let them know how their input will be used to make your service even better.
After the focus group sessions are done, summarize key points to discuss and share with your team. Strategize, evaluate and re-invigorate your service improvement plans.
Take what you have learned and put it into action!
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