Mystery shopping is just one aspect to the work that we do at Shoppers’ Critique International. There are some unique ways that we can provide you the information you need to know whether your business is running smoothly and at its best. We do this by offering our Focus Groups and our Guest Intercepts. But you might be wondering just what those are?

Focus Groups

Our focus groups are a method of capturing qualitative data in-person in a controlled environment. We bring together a specific group of people; they can be particularly chosen by the client or they can be randomly selected to provide a greater level of diversity. Whichever method is chosen, the group gets together and is asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. More often than not, what we find is that there are drastically varied responses to much of what is talked about in a focus group. The goal is to provide valuable insight that can hopefully change things for the better in the long run.

Once we’ve brought people together into the focus group, we ask the participants questions in an interactive group setting. This allows for them to freely talk with one another and bounce ideas back and forth, essentially acting as a think tank for whatever is being discussed that day. We offer the client the option of either sitting in on the focus group, or being behind a two-way mirror, so that they can collect information in whatever way they are comfortable. In addition, audio, video, and/or written transcripts of these focus groups can be made available for further study.

Focus groups are a great tool for capturing a representative sample of customers, clients, employees, the general public, or any other grouping in order to take qualitative measurement as an indication of how a larger group may react to the measured variables. This data is greatly valuable in gathering insight for the client before any major decisions are enacted, which allows the company to make any necessary adjustments to optimize the program before taking it into effect. These focus groups also provide the business owner the ability to see the issues that are important to the participants, which can give unique insight into the workings of the target audience.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect to the focus groups is their ability to gauge the strength of whether the new company product is accepted by the market audience. Whether you’re creating a new product, service, policy, or logo, the feedback of a focus group can tell you whether it’s a good investment of your time, or if there’s something more pressing at hand. In addition, you might see the reaction of employees to possible changes in how the business functions or what new products you might be rolling out; after all, one of the core values you must have is keeping the employees happy, and if a new idea would send them running, then there might be a change needed. There are literally thousands of potential applications for these focus groups and the great data that it provides you.

Guest or Customer Intercepts

Similar to the focus groups, guest or customer intercepts are great tools to give you immediate feedback on something that you’re looking into. However, the key difference is that they are less controlled and more randomized than the focus groups. In a customer intercept, the customers are approached as they are leaving an establishment and surveyed with a brief questionnaire as they stand in the establishment. Polling opinions and collecting feedback from customers as they exit provides an opportunity to measure qualitative data at their freshest. The customers have just experienced the business, and therefore will be able to give the most accurate representation of their impressions at that time; whether it’s of the building, the employees, or just how things are run, there are countless opportunities for feedback. Some of the questions they may be asked are:

•    How do you feel about the quality, prices, and selection of merchandise?
•    How was your customer service experience?
•    How did you find the décor of the business?
•    Would you recommend this place to others?
•    What is your impression of the brand? Does this establishment live up to that?

These are just a sampling of the kind of questions that a customer might experience during a customer intercept. Regardless of the questions that are asked, there is ample opportunity for improvement and growth through these guest intercepts. The data they provide can go a very long way.

Whether you choose to use a focus group, or a customer intercept, the data that you get as a result can drastically change the way you do business because you’re seeing how those involved with the business truly view it. The data is fresh and flexible, and provides the most accurate and relevant information to the issues you find important.

Please contact us today for any additional information.