I love the holiday season! It brings great events, great food and even better company. Although most of the holiday season brings joy and happiness, there are some things that can make it a bit less enjoyable, sometimes even stressful. With so much going on this season, if I only had a solution to those problems, helping me enjoy my holiday……ok, that’s where you come in 🙂
To solve a customer problem is to make a happy person (or several people). As you know, when you make people happy, you get a sale, possible future sales and if you are really good, a free salesperson that markets to their friends and family. Solving my problems quickly, allows me to focus on my family, my friends and allows me to enjoy my holiday season the way that I want to. If you can do that for me, especially around the holidays, I am willing to pay a bit more, give you a great tip and/or proclaim across my large number of social media “besties” that you are the best thing since turkey, dressing sandwiches (of which I am still full of since Thanksgiving).
Designing your website to solve customer issues is not as hard as it sounds. Your website should be as much about how to solve your customers issues with your products and services as it is about telling them who you are as a business. Doing this even more in the busy holiday season can help your customers with their limited time available. They want to know how you will help them and you can easily do this on your website.
But first, let’s dig into how to solve customer problems by identifying what the customer problems are and discovering what the best solution is for that problem.
What’s the customer’s problem?
Ok, so whether your customer’s problems are trivial or critical, solving what bothers them and making their lives easier, gains you a everything you need in a customer and supporter. But what are their problems?
For some small businesses, this may seem like an easy question and answer session however, going through this review process is an important exercise to do periodically, as it can help you identify new issues that you didn’t know existed, help you identify a new customer or help existing customers see your “full potential” by more clearly identifying what problem you can solve (because you haven’t been telling them that).
Finding out your customer’s main problems starts off with a few things:
1.Identify who are the customers you want to target.
If it’s several different groups of them, then you may want to approach each separately, to determine if their problems are the same or different.
We talked about how to find who your customers are and how to customer segment in our blog “How to write to you customer 101: Consumer insights for targeted website content“. If you need more information on this topic, I encourage you to read the blog and reach out to me if you have any additional questions [email protected].
2. Figure out how you are going to learn their problems.
Are you getting more information through customer interviews, Social media stalking, problem research online or brainstorming with your coworkers or friends?
- If you are talking to customers in person, ask them questions about why they are looking to purchase your product, what this will help them do and what turned them on to your business. The problem may come with the first question or two or, you may have to keep digging in. Obviously, you don’t want to be weird so if you have to ask a lot of questions to get the information you need, make sure to let them know that you are asking so you can help make customer experience better (because you are).
- If you are checking social media, you can do it on your page or checking the pages of your friends/customers. This is a great way to bring up topics and look for the good and bad stories of their lives. Keep in mind, that you may seem a little intrusive if asking specific questions about their issues or you may not get the full story of their situation but, it can get you close. Look at the pages of your competition and those in other states to get ideas.
- If you are doing research online, use one of the major search engines like Google or Bing but, I would also encourage you to do research on other websites like trade groups, competitors or researching similar products or services. Example: If you have a carpet cleaning service, look up retail carpet cleaners, cleaning supplies and mom sites that focus on cleaning and stain removal.
3. Ask the right questions.
Finding the answer can only come through asking questions that get to the root cause of an issue, sometimes a different answer than what you might think.
- Make sure to ask very broad questions at first and then become more specific with each question, drilling down to the”Why”. For example:
- What is your biggest issue with your carpets around the holidays? “They get really stained and I just don’t have the time to clean them between holidays and company coming over.”
- What happened that made your carpets get stained? “I had a big Thanksgiving party and the dogs had to keep coming in from the rain.”
- Are the carpets stained in all rooms or which rooms do you have your issues in? “Mostly the living and dining rooms but the halls and stairs get stained as well. I also had to cover some of my furniture to prevent it from getting messed up.”
- What bothered you the most, the food stains or the dog stains? “Actually, the dog stains as it smells like wet dog everywhere.”
- If you could have anything in the world related to carpet cleaning over the holidays, what would you want? “Someone to come in and clean my carpet spots in between my events. I want to set it all up early November so everyone in the house knows when they are coming and I know they can get me in. I want some deep cleanings before the big events and I want them to move my furniture. I only want to pay one price for all of it so my husband knows what we are paying across all the holidays. Also, I would love someone to just rent couch covers from when the weather is bad and my dogs jump on the couches.”
Identified problems: The holidays bring bad weather which causes dogs to drag the weather indoors and dog owners to have dirty carpets and furniture. Big parties cause carpet and furniture stains and wear. Customers don’t have time to clean their carpets and don’t want the hassle of scheduling every time something happens. They have frequent parties and need quick services in between. They want to rent furniture covers but don’t have anyone renting them.
- If you are checking issues online, type in several approaches to the issue to see what you can find.
- Example for a carpet cleaning company:
- What do customers want most with carpet cleaning?
- What do customers hate about carpet cleaning?
- What are the top issues with carpet cleaning?
- Why do customers want to clean their own carpets?
- Do customers want to move their own furniture when carpet cleaning?
- When researching these question approaches, you can find different answers that may not be what you expected like: They need someone that will clean carpets at night, when they are home or, they want to have someone come in and just clean spots or one room, not want to clean and move furniture in more than one room.
- Research feedback on similar services or products like looking up product comments on carpet cleaners and cleaning products. What do people love and hate about them and how can you take advantage of this feedback.
- Example for a carpet cleaning company:
Find me a solution (or two)
Oooooh, we get to brainstorm, my favorite!!! No really, it’s really one of my favorite things to do. Why, you ask? Well, because I can get my creative juices flowing, create a bunch of ideas and then work through them until I find some pearls of wisdom. What’s even better is when you invite people to join in the brainstorming, it’s like a fun game of who has the best answer and who can the best solutions.
It’s also important to invite others to help you develop solutions for a few reasons: A. Because having varying perspectives and opinions can help you reach multiple answers that may all be good for different people B. Because doing things alone stinks (unless you are an introvert and then refer back to reason #1).
Brainstorming the right way has several rules that must be followed for good answers to come:
- Grab a board or big sheet of paper. Writing ideas down where everyone can read them helps spur creativity since we tend to be visual learners. put the problem on the top of the sheet.
- All ideas remain until time to start cutting them down. Do not cast negativity on someone’s idea as it might be the best one.
- Don’t worry if you can or can’t do it…at first. You just need ideas that may push you towards a different direction.
Now, start coming up with solutions for your problem, list all of them (even the crazy ones). Once you feel like you have all of the ideas on paper, maybe 10 minutes to 30 minutes, then move to the next step.
Then, start reducing the list. Have your participants look over the list of options and pick their top 5 options based on their ability to solve the customer problem. Then talk through those. If there is overlap in their favorites, add those to the top of your list. Now go through all of the rest of the listed items and if everyone is agreed on the least likely to solve the problem, put those in the “discard” list and list the rest under the “use it” list or the “maybe” list.
Now, go through your “use it” list and start detailing out how you would complete each one of these items. What are the resources you would need, how much would it cost and how would you reach the customer with this information. Once you do this for each of your options, you can determine items you can complete now, those you can complete later.
Our solution for the customer’s issue with the above carpet cleaning:
Provide a package that runs from the week before Thanksgiving to the week after New Year’s Day. This package would include carpet cleaning in 3 to 5 rooms, up to 5 visits within that time period (2 full room cleanings and 3 spot cleanings). We determined that we didn’t want to get into the couch cover rental business at this time but it might be something that we invest in later.
That’s how you get your list of solutions to your customer options.
Solving customer problems may take time, but will get you to a better solution for your customer and will target your online marketing to be more relevant to them.
Find their real problems. Develop solutions that solve these problems and then market those to your customer.
How do you market them?
You will need to check out our next blog for those answers and more.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!