Imagine you need to show convincingly in a sales
training video DVD or multimedia what customers or the general public
really think; how do you do this?
Focus groups are a very
effective way of generating a large amount of authentic and revealing
video footage. To prevent the result being just a series of talking heads,
we would add a variety of scenes showing what the focus group members are
talking about – customers in a branch, people walking in a street, a busy
call centre or whatever is appropriate. These scenes and partial
reconstructions would be made anonymous to avoid any problems of privacy
We developed just such a concept for a
financial services company with call centres in India. The problem was
that the Indians saw the British as they might have done in films from the
1950s with John Gregson, John Mills and Sylvia Sims – decent, reserved and
cultured, speaking RP English. They did not expect people to be rude, to
speak in incomprehensible accents or to have a careless attitude to
Our solution was a matrix of focus groups, two
in each of three locations, London, Manchester and Glasgow. This allowed
for a variety of accents, ages and socio-economic groups. To get
people to speak frankly, each focus group should be made up of people of a
similar profile, so no-one feels out of place. The group should be conducted by
a professional moderator, who will be experienced in keeping the discussion on
track so all the topics are covered, and who will make sure that everyone gets
involved. Six focus groups, shot over three days, would produce up to 10 hours
of video footage – more than enough to create four or five revealing videos on
topics important to your business.
Employees’ opinions can be more of a problem.
They will be conscious that their input will be seen by colleagues and by
their boss. If the issues they discuss are not sensitive, they may be
happy to appear on video. Even so, we would avoid shooting them in groups.
We would exclude other members of staff while they are in front of camera
and then only show the company edited clips, leaving out anything that
might be embarrassing or compromising.
If the issues discussed are
sensitive, whether involving employees or real-life customers (as opposed
to a focus group drawn from the general public), another technique we use
is to interview people one-to-one, either face-to-face or on the phone. We
make an audio record of the interviews. These interviews are transcribed
and edited to remove any identifiers, before we turn the best bits into a
video script for the client to approve. This script is then delivered on
video by professional actors speaking to camera as if they were being
interviewed. We explain at the start of the video that these are the views
of real customers or employees, performed by actors.