Focus Groups

Skill level: Beginner


A focus group is used to gather a collective point of view from several customers at the same time. It can be used to test if a certain hypothesis concerning customer needs is true, or to solicit feedback on a number of topics.
Challenges when conducting focus groups are that they can be time consuming, the moderator can induce biases, and strong personalities can dominate outcomes.


  • Clarifies and clearly defines customer needs
  • Provides insights into prioritization of needs
  • Tests concepts and returns immediate feedback
  • High response rate
  • Easy to use

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Define what you want out of the session.
  • Step 2.  Establish participant profiles: Who should they be?
  • Step 3.  Develop questions or thought-starters to ask to initiate discussions.
  • Step 4.  Plan agenda and flow of the session.
  • Step 5.  Select group locations and schedule.
  • Step 6.  Estimate resources needed (human and material).
  • Step 7.  Test questions.
  • Step 8.  Finalize questions and session flow.
  • Step 9.  Send invitations to participants.
  • Step 10.  Lead the focus group.
  • Step 11.  Analyze the findings.

Relevant Definitions

Not Applicable


A doctor’s office was planning to re-engineer its reception processes to expedite how quickly patients could be checked in while minimizing the amount of time spent by the receptionists.
In addition to obtaining feedback on the potential process, the office wanted to learn of other improvement opportunities it should consider at the same time. Office staff held a meeting with a group of new and long-term patients to solicit their feedback.

Additional areas for improvement that were identified included:

  • Create check-in rooms where patients can provide information in a confidential manner
  • Allow more time for each appointment to minimize the risk of overbooking or extensive patient wait times
  • Dedicate specific days or times for certain appointments or procedures (e.g., physicals or check-ups are in the afternoon, emergencies are primarily handled in the morning)

The doctor’s office was able to incorporate some of this feedback into the re-engineering processes, which ultimately improved productivity while also improving patient satisfaction.


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