Most people are aware of customer focus groups, in which customers are brought together and asked by a professional facilitator their opinions regarding a product or service. In initial business-to-business satisfaction focus groups, key account contacts are usually asked a number of pointed questions about their expectations and how well the supplier is meeting them.

Joseph P. Sperry, a consultant and a partner with S4 Consulting, based in Powell, Ohio, suggests taking the customer-service survey a step further. Video focus groups can enable a company to get systematic customer expectation data and improve training and performance.

Because the focus groups are videotaped, an edited record of customer responses will be available for uses that are limited only by the firm's creativity. Such tapes can work to:

  • Tighten and align the questions on satisfaction surveys
  • Bring the "voice of the customer" directly to internal training programs
  • Help determine which internal delivery systems fall short of customer expectations
  • Develop quicker employee buy-in for any process or system-improvement effort.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing