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Solving a customers’ problem is key
Solving a customers’ problem is key

Fall in love with customers' pain points

A sure-fire way to succeed in business is to create a solution to an existing problem. To do this, businesses must thoroughly understand their customer's pain points. MICHAEL HINSHAW reports.

It’s human nature to fall in love with your own solutions but it’s also one of the most common pitfalls for business leaders, entrepreneurs and those responsible for improving customer experiences, so don’t do it.

Why? Because the implications of this mind- set are significant.

Remember New Coke? It’s probably the most famous example of well-intentioned company leaders betting on a solution to a problem they didn’t fully understand.

Other examples include the Amazon Fire phone, the Google+ social network and 3D TV.

These are perfect examples of falling in love with a solution and it’s possible none of these failures would’ve happened at all if the companies had spent even a small portion of energy and resources on understanding their customers’ pain points.

Consumers want products and services that improve their lives, so it follows that few consumers will care about a solution when it misses the mark, even if you’re trying to solve the right problem.

Furthermore, even fewer consumers will care if you’re solving a problem that doesn’t exist!

Don't jump to solutions

When it comes to addressing the issues at hand, jumping to solutions is never a good idea.
How many times have you seen companies – maybe even yours – make ill-advised investments in technology, systems, products or services that actually make problems worse because they lack a deep understanding of the problem being solved?

Rarely does a solution fail because it wasn’t built as designed or intended.

Rather, it fails because it doesn’t solve the right customer pain point. Once a company follows a hypothesis instead of a fact-based solution, the ramifications amplify across the product lifecycle, often altering the customer experience.

"Deeply empathise with your customers and what they are trying to accomplish. This empathy can – and should – lead to a love for the problem they need you to solve"

Resources are then needed to fix the solution, which all could have been avoided by understanding the original problem.

In the world of design, this is akin to running experiments that validate what you expect to happen rather than revealing what is actually happening.

Consider what happens when you show a website or user-interface prototype to a customer and ask how they like it.

Normally, they’ll give you honest and direct feedback – “I don’t like the colour”, “The menu is confusing”, “Can you make the font bigger?”

What they can’t tell you is how well this solves their problem.

If you use your time with customers to discover the problem then come back and test multiple solutions, you’ll learn firstly if you’re solving the right problem and, secondly, which are the best solutions.

In a corporate environment, the pressure to come to the table quickly with fully-formed solutions is high.

Initial solutions are arrived at without much customer feedback and, by the time they reach an executive audience, those solutions are under far more scrutiny than the problems they’re trying to solve.

In other words, start with the problem.

Help customers to do their jobs

Your customers have specific tasks they’re trying to accomplish when they interact with your products. They desire dependable, predictable outcomes that make it easier to achieve these tasks. Any solution that doesn’t make it easier to do this is no solution at all.

By observing and chatting with customers, you can establish what job they’re trying to complete and how your business is making it hard for them to do so. Understanding your customer’s goals and pain points is what leads to building better solutions.

Understanding problems comes from understanding customers and right solutions only result from solving the right problems.

Don’t seek solutions until you truly understand what you’re solving and remember that it will be necessary to test multiple solutions in order to succeed. Don’t be afraid to fail fast and often, and don’t fall in love with your solution.

Deeply empathise with your customers and what they are trying to accomplish. This empathy can – and should – lead to a love for the problem they need you to solve.

When that occurs, you’ll develop solutions that your customers will love.

When you’re improving your customers’ lives, that’s when the magic happens. By using your solution, your customers will begin to succeed and when this happens, you’ll also begin to succeed.

Michael Hinshaw

Contributor • McorpCX

Michael Hinshaw is president of McorpCX, which focuses on customer experience management. Learn more:

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