Your main goal should be solving your customers’ problems while making a profit and sustaining, ideally growing, your business. This is essentially the very backbone of all business operations, that you solve your customer’s problems in such a way that they are happy with the result, are willing to come back, and will gladly recommend your product or service to the next person.
Some solutions are for challenges that the customers are currently facing, while others are for problems likely to be encountered in the customer’s cycle of using your product or service. The best way to solve a problem is to approach it from the customer’s perspective in such a way that you convince them that you understand their dilemma clearly and have a solution for it. If you don’t do this, you will lose credibility in your customer’s eyes when they realize that you can’t solve their problem.
Identifying customer problems
Sometimes a customer may have a dilemma or proverbial thorn in their side but they don’t necessarily want to solve it – it feels overwhelming to address it, there’s a ripple effect that triggers other issues, they’re ‘used to it’ or it’s simply not a priority. The most successful problem-solving businesses are those that can identify the problems that their customers are willing to solve and offer workable solutions for them in a timely and cost-effective manner. Each problem requires a well thought out innovative solution.
Remember, if your solution promises to put an end to the problem that your customer is facing they will be willing to pay for it. Your job, of course, is to make sure that you communicate to them what they will gain by using your product or service.
Here are a few ways you can discover and understand your customers’ problems:
Use online tools
The internet is a wonderful resource, and beyond simply Googling, there are tools where you can get more direct information.
Answer the Public is a great research tool. Put in any search term and you’ll get back a thorough list of questions and related topics to that term. Unlike traditional search engines where you would get back the keyword search terms that might show you terms that are related and different ways to say the same thing, Answer the Public actually structures many responses in the form of questions. You can’t go wrong if you already know the questions they will ask!
Talk to your customers
Have you ever been on the phone with someone who genuinely wanted to know how you are really doing? Having a personalized way of getting your customer’s opinions is invaluable; they will not only answer your direct question but also go a step further to explain how they feel you could solve their problem.
When you truly listen, you also go much deeper in gaining their trust and helping them to understand that you have their best interests at heart.
Go through your product reviews section
If you have set up your business in such a way that you can receive reviews, look at each of them. In most cases, this is an area where people get really candid about the experience they had using your product or service and the value that they got from it.
This will help you maintain the right track or switch lanes to improve their experience. Additionally, the occasional peep through your competitors’ reviews could help you learn what not to do, especially if there are negative reviews or complaints. Negative reviews might even point you towards the problems that exist for your customers that nobody is addressing but are in need of a solution.
Steps to effective problem solving
For you to effectively solve your customers’ problems, you have to approach them systematically. You must begin by placing the problem into context as much as possible and then evaluating all possible solutions. Some questions to guide you when doing this are:
- Do I fully understand the problem?
- How can I solve it?
- Have there been any prior attempts to solve it?
- What can I do differently to achieve better results?
Asking yourself such questions helps you analyze the problem and settle on the most accurate way of solving it.
A good way to become a systematic problem solver is to adopt the following five-step problem-solving process:
Identify the problem
Use the suggested methods above to find out the real identity of your customer’s problem in order to determine how best to solve it. Ask the right questions, observe and make sure you understand the problem completely from your customer’s perspective.
Analyze the problem
This is the second stage towards understanding the problem and trying to work out a solution. Ask questions like:
- How often does the problem occur?
- How badly does it affect you?
- Are you aware of any triggers to the problem?
- How long has it been a challenge for you?
- What part of your life feels the challenge the most?
These questions dissect the problem in a way that makes it easy to figure out the solution point.
Identify decision criteria
Once you have analized the problem, you can identify which facts of the problem will back up your solution criteria. From the answers received from the questions above, you can work out metrics on how to approach the solution to the problem.
Create multiple solutions
With the many metrics determined, you can come up with several different solutions to the problem. While you may have come up with a good solution, you may find out that there are better ones that you can explore. Once you have multiple solutions, it is easy to evaluate each, elaborating their respective pros and cons.
Choose the best solution from the many
The best solution to offer your customers will be one that ticks off all the boxes from the decision criteria determined earlier. Once you settle on a solution, take it on a test drive and even work out a few contingencies before you officially present it to your customers.
Having a systematic approach to problem-solving assures you of accurate results, something that will increase your customers’ confidence in your brand. It also ensures a lot of time is saved in the process.
Remember, some problems might need more input on the best way to solve them, making it an expensive venture for your business. Before jumping in, do a cost analysis to determine the viability of the process as a business.
Connecting the dots
In our previous tip, we talked about what makes you unique, which is what attracts customers to you. Here we’ve helped you walk through the process of identifying the problems you solve for people.
As you focus in on one aspect of the journey, don’t lose sight of the previous step as it plays an important role in this one.
Your Online Partner… for Success
Now more than ever you need a website that is more than a pretty business card. You need one that has its sleeves rolled up and working for you. We’re here to make sure your website is working just as hard as you are. Take advantage of a free 30-minute session with Christy to explore ways to take your site to the next level.