The Things People Say (Why Customer Listening is Critical)

Last week we held a Focus Group Event.  If you’ve ever done or been in a focus group, you wouldn’t apply the word “event” to it right?  Focus groups are usually in a boring conference room, with boring food, and people sitting around a conference table.  Often a one-way mirror for observers.

Well, this one was certainly not that.  It was a terrific, fun event. No kidding. Now, I’m not going to go into details, because I think that would be giving away something pretty cool and unique we’ve discovered.  But I will show you some photos—of our guests actually enjoying an evening of socializing AND participating in focus groups.  If you want to know how we pulled that off, you’ll just have to contact us—sorry! Suffice it to say, we were really proud of it; our client was ecstatic and now he’s got some major fans.  That’s a big win, win, win!

So let’s talk about Focus Groups.  Or what I’d rather call it: Customer Listening.

Customer Listening is fascinating.  Enlightening. Oftentimes surprising.  And always absolutely critical.  That is if you want your product/service/marketing to be relevant and ring true to your actual customer; and if you want to find out whether or not your product/service/marketing is solid or needs some changes (that’s something you want, right?  Boy I hope so!).

Customer Listening can take several forms:

  1. Surveys
  2. Phone Interviews
  3. In-person interviews
  4. Focus groups

Whatever form it takes, your goal is to LEARN.  And you do that by ASKING and LISTENING.  When you’re with them in real time, you’ll want to listen carefully and probe—pull those emerging threads of insight that just might take you beyond your list of questions to some unexpected golden nugget.  I’ve actually heard taglines emerge…straight from the customer’s mouth.  What could be better—more real?

What questions?  It really depends on who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish, but here are just a few that are always insightful.

(NOTE: replace “we” with “company, service or product”):

  • How are we performing overall?
  • What makes us stand out from the competition—how are we different, what do we do really well?
  • Any special stories about working with us—ie tough problems solved?
  • What can we be doing better, add or change?
  • Would you recommend us? Why/why not?
  • If you could describe us in one short sentence, what would you say?
  • How did you find out about us?
  • If it’s a new company/product/service: How do you find out about others in the marketplace—where do you go for information, what steps do you take?
  • What key criteria do you use to select a company/service/product in this market?

Goodness, this barely scratches the surface.  It’s undeniable, we love Customer Listening, because the things people say are priceless. So if you want to know more (or you’re dying to find out about our super-duper cool Focus Group Event idea), just reach out.  We’d be happy to ask you questions and listen to you!