7 Ways for Resolving Customer Problems
Quick, without thinking about it, answer these questions:
How well do you really know your customer?
Are you truly solving a problem that keeps them up at night?
Identifying needs and wants isn’t hard, but it does take some work.
Peter Drucker, the management consultant and author said it best:
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Good things will happen when you truly know your client base and how they measure success. You’ll develop better solutions to their problems and understand how to sell them.
Leading to great success for you and your business.
It starts with understanding your target audience and what they want – as well as what they need – and what they are willing to pay for a solution to their problems. You’d think that if you just do a little customer data mining, then creating a solution to the problem they face should be simple.
“What do people want and is it enough to be successful?”
It’s important to ask yourself these questions and be honest with the answers, but first do your research.
Go ask your potential audience. Because if your target market has other ideas as to what works for them and what doesn’t, then you are in deep trouble, before you ever get started!
It’s important to understand your target audience and their problems – totally.
Make sure that identifying consumer needs is a very high priority.
These are the questions you need to clearly answer:
• What is the problem you are solving?
• Who has the problem?
• Why do they have the problem?
• What metrics do these customers use to measure success?
• Is the problem worth solving for your audience, why is it compelling?
• How many have this problem, how big is the market?
• What information are you relying on to ‘prove’ that your market exists, is large enough, and will buy from you?
• How much is your audience willing to pay to solve their problem?
Do you really need to answer all these questions? Only if you want accelerate growth and revenue! Do your homework, talk to your market, and you’ll be rewarded. This is the bottom-up way to attack a market. But the bottom line is getting to know your customer.
Many people have an idea and then convince themselves that it is a huge marketplace and they can make it big by taking only 10% of the market. But the truth is that usually they really haven’t solved a problem uniquely enough, at least not as far as prospective customers are concerned.
To start the conversation on problem solving we must firstly understand the issues involved.
How we define the problem?
What are the alternatives?
How do we develop an action plan? and
Ways to troubleshoot the issue.
Only from this position can we communicate and implement an effective resolution to the problem at hand. Once customers see that there is a genuine process happening on their behalf to resolve their particular problem, the issue is not so big and on most occasions concluded in a satisfactory manner.
How We Learned about Solving Problems
Through conventional classroom education, most of us have come to believe that there is usually a right or a wrong answer to a problem. As such, we tend to study our most pressing business problems to find a single “right” answer – as if we are solving for X in a math problem.
Yet in the business world, many problems don’t become clearer the more we study them.
Instead, they may become larger and more confusing. Problems involving a mix of personalities and dynamic markets can be especially vexing. Naturally, hiring managers who fail to understand the nature of their business problems will find it difficult to solve them.
Seven Steps to Successful Problem Solving
When solving problems it’s important to follow a logical process. Most business problems are not solved because people don’t define the “real problem” clearly.
Therefore, the strength of the business problem solving ability can be seen by walking through the following seven step framework while getting them to describe how they solved a real life problem the last time.
When discussing a problem, the business should demonstrate ability to:
1. Define the problem:
What went wrong by including both a cause and an effect in fining the problem?
2. Define the objectives:
The outcome the customer wanted to achieve as a result of solving the problem.
3. Generate alternatives:
How many alternatives did the business generate? Did the quality of the alternatives vary greatly? Was there a significant difference in the costs associated with each idea? And so on.
This is the area in which the business can demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness to solve a problem.
4. Develop an action plan:
Have a detailed action plan. Most action plans for tough problems involve taking several steps over a period of time.
Always specify who did what?
And by what dates?
The devil is in the details, and detailed problem solvers are usually more effective.
This is where the worst cases scenarios are discussed.
What could have gone wrong with the plan?
What are the side effects?
How do you ensure the plan will work?
Were there any unintended consequences?
How do we make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Getting information to the right people is key to any resolution.
Implement an address to individuals or groups affected by the success of the action plan. Explain who was impacted by it and who needed to be informed about it?
Always communicate with relevant parties. The most effective businesses are those who can leverage their time and talents by getting things done through other people. This is your opportunity to build your company’s management.
Carry out the plan and monitor its implementation. Who was accountable for each part of the solution? What were the consequences for failure to meet the plan?
Try to determine: when to be “hard on the issues and soft on the people?”
Drilling down on how a company solved problems in the past will give you a good idea of how they will solve problems in the future. Think in terms of the quality, consistency, and costs of their solutions.
Think like a little child:
Ask “Why?” or “How?” to everything customers say.
If you don’t ask these questions during the process, you may pay a steep price later for your lack of determination and aptitude to resolve problems.