Lisa Baxter, director of The Experience Business, shares her tips getting the most out of focus groups.

13th July 2017

Where do you go for fresh ideas and perspectives to enhance business performance? Look no further than your own workforce. A wealth of collective experiences, alternative perspectives and creative talent resides within your own staff teams.

Lisa Baxter, director of The Experience Business, says: “Low cost and potentially high impact, employee focus groups bring huge value to the business. For example, they can provide an effective sounding board for new initiatives, explore coal-face perspectives on the nature of customer interactions, identify issues and opportunities to improve organisational efficiency, and tap into fresh thinking to fuel growth and innovation.”

Done well, focus groups can also strengthen employee engagement by generating a deeper sense of involvement in the business, galvanising teams around shared goals and dismantling silo-thinking. 

“Just like Marmite, people tend to love or hate focus groups,” says Lisa, “but with all these benefits on your own doorstep, what’s not to like?”

Lisa's top 5 tips

Be focused. Establish what you need to know, why and to what end. Use this to invite the most relevant people.  

Ensure participants know why their opinions are important. Make them feel valued throughout – from the invitation, to the refreshments to an authentic thank you at the end.

Keep people informed. Participants need to fully understand who will have access to the information and what actions might be taken as a result.  Make sure you also keep them up-to-date with the impacts of the research.

Maintain trust and openness. Frame the conversation by encouraging honesty and respect for everyone’s opinions. Emphasise that there are no right or wrong answers. Never judge what people are saying. Consider offering guarantees of anonymity if the subject is a sensitive one.

Facilitate the session. As moderator, encourage everyone to contribute to the discussion and to stay on topic. If someone dominates the conversation, open it up to the rest of the group. Clarify ‘woolly’ points and reflect your understanding back for verification.


Lisa Baxter is director of The Experience Business, a strategic insight consultancy specialising in research, creative facilitation and customer experience design. For details of training courses on how to run focus groups, go to theexperiencebusiness.co.uk and visit the Training and CPD > audience insight pages.

1 comment

  • Steve Bather 21st Sep 2017

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