7 tips to come up with creative solutions to customer problems

Every customer is different, so are their issues and pain points. With growing customer expectations, resorting to standard set of solutions and offerings to address customer needs or problems, is just not enough.

You need to come up with creative ways to approach this, be it in the form of building/modifying a product, tailoring a service, or even conceptualizing an idea. In this article, I will discuss 7 powerful techniques, that will help you create innovative solution to customer problems.

Before we get into the tips, let us understand the different stages or scenarios where you need to apply them.

  1. Proposal: This is very typical, when you are submitting a business proposal to a customer or prospect.
  2. Sales pitch/capability presentation: In this case, you make a first level pitch to your target.
  3. Business meeting: A business meeting where you make a pitch or discuss future plans and strategy, or even doing an audit.
  4. Marketing and promotional activities: When you interact with your customers during promotions.

In all the above scenarios, you might come across situations where you need to think and act differently to solve customer issues. That said, let us get into the techniques.

1. Relate to your past experience

There is nothing better than approaching a problem leveraging your past experience. This is true especially in a B2B scenario. One of the most important questions a customer asks when you try to sell a product or service to him/her is, where have you implemented it before. Or how did you customize your product for a customer. And you need to have proof points to back you up. 

But just saying that you have done it before does not work. The way you explain it also matters. Try to present it in the form of a story. Like sharing an experience, and not just talking. 

For example, you may start like this:

“We had a similar customer like you 2 years back. They had very unique requirements. And this is how we helped them meet their business goals using our product”. You may continue to state the problem statement, and how you addressed it. 

 

You need not use the same words. But you get the intent here. Presenting your capability through experience stories is a very powerful tool to selling

2. Understand, analyze and match

One of the common mistakes among business professionals is trying to impose their product or offering on their customers and prospects. They take a product or service offering, and attempt to find customer needs that it can address. This might give you success 1 out of 10 times. But won’t take you the distance. 

Instead, you need to first understand the pain points of your prospects, their immediate and long term goals, preferred method of communication etc. The next step is to analyze these needs and requirements in detail to see what resources or elements would you need to address them. Then you match these with a product or set of products/services you have. 

And this will help you refine your solution to arrive at the perfect one. 

3. Tweak the solution to suit the relevant stakeholders

When I say your solutions have to be creative, it does not always mean that you  should give a fancy look and feel to it. It starts from the basics. And aiming to convince the right stakeholders in the customer organization is key to selling your solution. This is true in B2C as well. Only that the right stakeholders are influencers like celebrities, bloggers, product reviewers etc. 

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But is it always possible to create a product that excites everyone? Maybe not. But you can still make it appealing to a large number of people than a small section of your target audience. 

In a B2B scenario, you need to target the key decision makers in the customer organization. If you are bidding for a large project, you might have C level leaders as the key decision makers. Then your solution should be instrumental in achieving organizational level goals, as that excites senior leaders the most. 

At the same time, if you are creating your solution for a low level manager or team lead, it needs to solve more ground level issues. The type of problems and details you need to get into, depends on your industry and domain. 

Modifying your offering to suit relevant stakeholders is crucial to coming up with creative solutions to customer problems. That takes care of any biases your prospect has. 

4. Keep end consumers in mind

The highest impact of the products and services you build is on the end consumer. Even if your product or service has hundreds of features, with little attention to end consumer needs and experience, you will not be able to succeed in the long run. 

Also, building them by keeping consumer preferences as a priority, will act as a point of differentiation for you. It will also male it easier for you to convince the customer (if the customer and end consumer are different). 

Let us take a simple example. 

Assume that you are an IT service provider. And your customer is a fitness company based out of the US, which runs gyms, fitness centers, sports clubs etc. They have approached you to create a mobile app for their customers. The app will be used to manage all their customers activities such as managing profile, subscription fee payments, planning fitness routine, managing diet plans, scheduling fitness trainers etc. 

In this case, the end consumers are your customer’s customers. And hence you need to visualize their persona and think how they would like the mobile app to be, instead of just mechanically building an app as per requirements. You should conduct usability tests with users falling into similar demographics.

All these will help you create a wonderful use experience for the end consumers. And what’s better than building a consumer friendly product, to come up with creative solutions for your customers. 

5. Look at market trends and competition

Creativity need not always come from within your organization. You can see what’s trending in the market. You can see what works for your competitors and what doesn’t. You can borrow their successful ideas and try to make them better. 

When you look at market trends, think a little ahead in time. What you create today becomes a selling point a few weeks or months, or even years later. And it is very likely that one of your competition also comes up with something similar. So create a solution that will serve the needs of not just today, but atleast for a few more years. 

6. Conduct business impact analysis

You might be wondering how business impact analysis can help you come up with creative solutions. This is more applicable to the B2B sector. Knowing how a business is affected during a crisis situation opens up an opportunity for you to come up with a new solution. It can be done in two ways:

  1. Conducting business impact analysis for the customer/prospect, and tailor your products, services and processes to survive an emergency or disaster.
  2. Business impact analysis for your own organization. This will help you include in your solution, points around how you will ensure business operations are not interrupted during a crisis situation. 

Let us try to understand the first point with an example. 

Assume you are a logistics company, providing services to courier companies, shipping firms, travel companies etc. You are serving in a cold region where temperature during winter goes as low as -10 degrees. Three months a year, the road remains icy and snowy. 

One of the major concerns of your customer is how will you ensure uninterrupted service during the three month period. This creates an opportunity for you to come up with an innovative solution. You could say that you have partnered with a local vehicle provider to rent specialty vehicles with drivers experienced in driving on icy roads. 

That was just an example. You need to figure out what suits your customers in the context of business impact. 

7. Present the solutions in an innovative way

You could have the best solution. But if you don’t package and present it well, it’s as good as not selling it. Here I will discuss some of the innovative and appealing ways to present your product or service. You can choose the ones that work for your business the best. 

  1. Augmented/Virtual/Mixed Reality: AR/VR/MR are very commonly used today by many businesses to display or present their solutions better to customers. An example would be a printer manufacturer using a VR gadget to give their prospects a feel of their printers, without actually having to physically see it.
  2. Voicebots: Amazon echo, a voicebot by Amazon has become more of a household device than a business utility nowadays. However, businesses use it to either create or present their solutions. 
  3. Interactive screens: These are screens which let the users arrange and play with the content displayed using touch and voice. The user may zoom in or zoom out to see the different parts of a product or a visual content. 
  4. Pepper robots: Even though not very common yet, many companies use pepper robots to excite their customers with a human-like experience. 

Creativity is a combination of building and showcasing. So use the above innovative methods to make your solutions more attractive and creative.

So that wraps up my 7 tips to come up with creative solutions to customer problems. Have you already tried any of these techniques in your business? Let me know in the comments section. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts and views.

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