Understanding customer perspective can be the make-it-or-break-it factor in your customer experience management plan. But only if you have the most accurate, truest understanding of the real customer perspective.
Focus groups are not able to completely provide that perspective. While focus groups are effective, and can give market researchers an insight into their customer mindset, they do not always provide the most complete picture.
It has been our experience that there are panelists — professional focus group members, really — who get rewarded, incented, or paid to be a part of a focus group and professional survey taker for large market research companies.
While focus groups can work, because you can do some demographic slicing and dicing to get people who meet certain profiles, these people are on a panel for a single reason: to get paid.
They get paid for a few hours of their time to sit in a room with other people, and discuss and debate every subtle nuance of a company’s marketing campaign, product offering, or service enhancements, sometimes getting into details that regular customers will never see or consider. This is a skewed version of the customer perspective.
We’re not saying focus groups are bad, but they shouldn’t be the only thing in a market researcher’s arsenal. There’s also social media (you can measure sentiment analysis with social media monitoring tools), mobile feedback and text surveys (hear from the greatest number of actual customers to get the most statistically-accurate customer perspective), and even mystery shopping (get unbiased feedback from people who live the customer perspective, and know what to look for).
If you want to get a clear picture of your customer perspective, focus groups are fine to use, but should not be the only tool in the toolbox There are at least three other viable forms of customer market research that can also give you a glimpse into the minds of your customers. Take full advantage of all of them.