A well-articulated customer problem is GOLD in Product Management.
It means that the steps toward finding a solution that solves that particular problem has less pitfalls.
However, even with a firm customer problem at hand, we sometimes take the same trodden solution path… We tend to innovate around the core product.
In fact, if we consider solutions beyond the core product, we’ll find that there are a number of other opportunities to innovate.
Here are various ways to solve a customer problem which should be examined before implementing product solutions:
- Process Solution
- Technology Solution
- Commercial Solution
- Communications Solution
- Service Solution
- Partnership Solution
Brainmates have developed a Solution Finder Template to encourage new ways to solve customer problems.
The template helps identify various solution options that can address the particular problem. When you’ve completed this analysis, there may be one solution that presents itself as the most attractive or there may be a combination of solutions that offers an innovative way to solve the problem.
Process according to the dictionary is “a series of actions taken to achieve an outcome”. There are usually a series of actions in the business to deliver a product or support a customer.
One way to solve the identified customer problem is through a process lens. Process is something that we usually don’t consider when trying to solve a customer problem. Understanding the customer problem in light of the processes that support the delivery or support of the product may bring a unique solution.
Mapping, analyzing and improving elements of the supply chain for example or re-engineering a sales process may solve the customer problem and deliver returns to the business in the form of increased revenue or decreased costs.
Technology has a broad definition. It includes tools, machines, know how, appliances, systems, the operating platform and so forth. Technology is one lens that we frequently apply to solve customer problems.
For example, a company may have a service available on a website but putting this service on a mobile platform may solve customer mobility problems, enabling customers to interact with the product in a different way.
Its a great lens to apply but there may be other, potentially cheaper ways to solve the customer problem.
Commercial solutions focus on extracting value from customers.
There may be new ways to price the product or a new payment option that may address the problem. Spotify for example charges a subscription fee for unlimited songs instead of a one off purchase fee for a CD. The underlying product (music) is the same but the commercial model is different and speaks to customers who don’t want to limit their range of music choices.
Often overlooked, but communicating your product in a different way or on a different channel may solve the customer problem. Customers may not even realize that the existing product solves a current or new problem and often communication can bridge that gap.
Most times, enhancing the way in which the organisation delivers before or after sales service to customers may go a long way towards solving their problem. For example, processing an insurance claim at the time of the first call offers a good solution to customers who are concerned about their claims.
Sometimes we are quick to go down the development path and tend to forget to review the range of assets at hand in the Business. Partnerships are assets that should be considered in the ‘solution’ mix. Instead of building a solution, a partner could white label their existing solution which can be used to solve the customer problem. Alternatively, various solutions from different partners could be brought together under the one brand.
Are there other types of ways to solve customer problems?
Use our Solution Finder Template to encourage your team new ways to solve customer problems and let us know what you think.