Using focus groups to uncover what makes a great customer experience

October 4, 2021

Market research moderator conducting a virtual focus group on a desktop computer.Improving customer experience takes intention and empathy, but there’s one key ingredient to creating a great customer experience — customer feedback.

Great customer experience looks like what your customers want it to look like. We can only get that insight by listening to customers and probing them for a deeper understanding of what they want or need as they navigate their way through their customer journeys.

Focus groups: A tried and true way of conducting research

Some modern researchers have argued in favor of abandoning research and relying solely on intuition in the quest for customer experience innovation. We’ve heard the claims that consumers don’t know what they want and that traditional consumer research methodologies, like focus groups, rarely deliver powerful insights. However, to claim that “the focus group is dead” is to ignore what has been working — and still works — in the marketplace today. When peeling away the layers of the most competitive categories out there, we regularly find these so-called “outdated“ research tools being used to innovate, evolve, and design: Disney, Dove, Southwest Airlines, Apple, and more have used focus groups to fuel some of their most powerful ideas. 

Your virtual option

The use of focus groups to probe into consumer motivations, desires, and unmet needs isn’t new. Conducting virtual focus groups to connect remotely with your audiences further enhances a researcher’s ability to uncover insights. Virtual focus groups are often more convenient for participants because they can join from the comfort of, well, anywhere. However, there are some considerations to weigh before scheduling a virtual focus group:

  • Do you have a virtual focus group platform that can support your study’s needs?
  • Are you prepared to over-communicate schedule reminders and instructions to participants?
  • Will your moderator have additional support during sessions to help troubleshoot with participants?

Practicing on the platform, preferably with the final discussion guide, will help moderators (and stakeholders) feel more comfortable so that you can spend your time collecting insights rather than facing technical difficulties.

Don’t judge insights by their covers

We know some aspects of studies are out of our control. When it comes to focus groups — or any other research methods — we can’t predict how respondents will answer, whether their insights will give us straightforward solutions, or if they’ll want changes to products or services that don’t seem feasible. However, effective researchers embrace those unexpected market research insights as opportunities that have value. If the need truly exists in the marketplace, innovation or disruption will eventually occur. Use your research to uncover consumer needs, then challenge yourself and your stakeholders to think creatively about meeting those needs.

What makes a great customer experience?

Insights have value, even when we don’t uncover what we expected. Identifying the right method, using the right tools, and working with the right research team will ensure that you collect feedback from those who count — your customers. You can then use insights in a way that drives your customer experience strategy forward.

At Bellomy, we serve our partners through the seamless integration of people, solutions, and technology. Our CX teams are ready to help navigate research challenges and provide the expertise needed to synthesize insights into solutions to your business problems. Start a conversation.