Work on your Customer’s Problems – Even If You Think They Are the Wrong Problems

  • A client thinks if they could just post to social media more often, things would open up.
  • A client thinks that if an employee could just get the right marketing training, they would perform.
  • A client thinks that if a designer could make the flyer more eye-catching, customers would arrive.

I believe these are the surface problems – the symptoms of having weak or non-existent systems.

  • I believe their offering does not differentiate itself – they are not articulating their secret sauce.
  • I believe they are focusing on tactics instead of big vision and an aligned strategy.
  • I believe they are making it way too hard for a potential customer to taste the difference.

We’re going to work all these problems. I’ll help them with social media, training and developing a production system. I am ALSO going to coach them to differentiate themselves, create a cohesive vision and provide easier entry points.

We must tackle both levels of problem or they cannot focus. Their fears about the symptoms keeps them from curing the diseases. They will never start the big stuff until we hold the small stuff. They will never name how the small stuff lives inside the big stuff. Their investment choices are like shooting fish in a barrel, without context or satisfaction.


When My Clients Learn How to Identify Their Problems, They Also Learn How to Serve Their Customer

It’s like a puzzle within a puzzle.

I will respond to my client’s perceived BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem.

And in the end, I will teach them to respond to their client’s BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem.

You have heard the phrase – the Customer is Always Right.

The customer is often actually wrong, but I’m going to meet them where they are. We cannot start the relationship with me disputing their problem. It works in fast food, it works in retail, and it works in services.

The customer’s opinion is the only one that matters when we are starting the relationship because they decide whether we interact.

What about the Problems They Dare Not Speak?

Like the Harry Potter character “He Who Cannot Be Named,” there are problems that hold back our clients even if the client won’t admit those problems. So instead, they will blame others or feel helpless.

That’s why we listen super intently and try to see the scripts under their words and actions.

Here are some problems you might hear under the words:

  • I live in a terrible place to grow a business but I don’t have the resources to move – Okay, let’s work the problem. If we had a billion dollars, what would be the first thing we would do to kickstart this place? From that list, what is feasible now? What can we work around? Who could we partner with? How could you live here but do business elsewhere?
  • I’m close to retirement and have been doing the same things for a long time. I can’t learn enough to make a difference. But this situation makes me sad – Okay, let’s work the problem. Why are you sad? What is being lost? Why can’t you sail into retirement fully satisfied with the current situation? What small action would help reduce the sadness? What tiny goal could we tackle that would make a difference?
  • I don’t believe in my team – Okay, let’s work the problem. What assets do you have in your team? What is missing? Do your team members have a fire that you can stoke? Or is it time to say goodbye to people who are not ready to grow?

Innovation Engineering is a process for problem solving. I use it every day in almost every conversation to help people solve problems. But it ONLY works if I listen and hear the customer’s BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem. If I assume their problem, and take them down a path where my solution solves that problem, they shut down. Their brain and heart is over here thinking about that BIGGER or MORE FREQUENT problems.

Their BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problems sound like blame, anger, frustration, shutting down, “shoulds” and exhaustion.

I will ask the questions at least three times. What is your BIGGEST problem? What is your MOST FREQUENT problem? Even people with decades of experience will struggle. But I can usually tell when we have hit something hot. And then we will work the problem.

It is vital that we go through this process because when it comes time for them to identify their own customers’ BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem, they will remember how energized they personally felt when we worked their problem. They will know why it opened their calendars and wallets. Anything less, and we cannot squeeze it into our busy lives.

What is your customer’s BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem?

What is their customer’s BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problem?

Work them in sequence. Do not jump the line. Respect each one’s perception and work the problems they value.