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Get Feedback And Suggestions With a Customer Focus Group

If you are simply offering a quality product at a reasonable price, you are not doing enough. Sure, you are probably skimming by, making just enough of a profit to keep your business afloat. When your customers leave your store, they are usually neutral with their purchase. The next time they need the same item, they may just go to your competitor down the street. It’s not that your product didn’t please them. It very well may have. Instead, it’s the fact that your store really didn’t differentiate or stand out among the others.

Your product may be of equal, if not better, quality than your competitors. Your pricing may be reasonable. So, what exactly will bring you loyal, repeat customers? You may sit in your office and come up with a list. Maybe you think free coffee and donuts will entice customers. Or maybe you think longer or more flexible hours will help. The key to this scenario is the “you think” part. Yes, you own or manage the business. So this probably means you “think” you are the expert when it comes to your customers. However, because of your close connection with the business, it may be difficult for you to step back and look at the overall business process.

In fact, many businesses are finding that the most reliable person to provide constructive feedback is a past or current customer. This feedback is the driving force for customer satisfaction surveys. However, what if you want a more personal, succinct method of conducting customer feedback? While surveys offer answers from many participants, a customer service focus group may open the doors for criticism, feedback, and suggestions.

The key to a successful focus group is planning. First off, decide how many participants you would like to have. If you choose too many participants, there is a good chance that each one will not have adequate time to provide their own ideas. Think 10-20 participants. Secondly, choose your participants carefully. You will want a mixture of current and past customers in order to receive honest feedback. Current customers will clue you in on what is keeping them around, while past customers will tell you why they haven’t returned.

After you have chosen a pool of participants, send out an initial invitation with possible dates offered. In order to accommodate everyone, you may need to hold several separate sessions. Be sure to include something that will guarantee their response. For example, offer them 50% off of any item in your store or give them a free gift for their participation. Make sure the offer is worthwhile, as customers aren’t going to give up a Wednesday night for a free hat.

Choose someone from your business to act as a mediator. They need to keep things in control and flowing, but also be flexible enough to let everyone speak their opinion. They will need to keep digressions to a minimum and keep the group on topic. You may want to provide the mediator with 5 very specific questions that you want addressed (5 questions is probably adequate for a 1 hour session with 10 participants). Make sure the questions are answered and then open the room up for further discussion on any issue or topic. Be sure that the participants feel comfortable and as though they are included in your business strategy. The mediator must mainly listen and take notes. Consider recording the session for future references.

Now that the focus group has been conducted, the most important thing you can do is use the feedback. You don’t necessarily have to implement every single thing, but you must give every single thing consideration before turning it down. When your customers see their suggestions implemented, it will encourage them to keep open lines of communication with you. Other customers will note that you are taking a genuine interest in their needs. Find out what you can do to set yourself apart from competitors.

About Sozo Firm

Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, social media, and internet marketing. Sozo Firm is based out of New Freedom, Pennsylvania. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.