I was recently talking to some IT professionals. We were talking about customer journeys and understanding the customer needs. They were second guessing these, making assumptions about what is important to the customer how how the customer would best interact with the application.
“How about running a focus group with customers?” I suggested. Blank expressions. “Not sure” came the response, “we’ve never done those before”.
But you have done that before. Every time you run a workshop with the business, that is a focus group. The listening skills are the same. Effective facilitation, and using stimuli to promote debate, elicit opinions and test ideas- they are the same. You just have a different audience and call focus groups something different.
IT should have no fear of talking to real customers, end users. Getting them together in workshops is something that should come as naturally to IT as it does to the marketeers. Let’s get focus groups into the vocabulary of any IT project.