A couple of times a year I guest-lecture for several Masters in Marketing/Customer Management programs in The Netherlands. Almost every time students approach me with a question regarding their master-thesis or other assignment. The most frequently asked question is to help them with the problem definition of their paper that addresses the issue of drafting/implementing/selling internally their multi/omni-channel/crm/customer experience strategy. Unfortunately. (Not that I mind them asking though. Always better to ask than not to).
I say unfortunately, because the same happens within companies all the time. It looks as if people do not want to solve problems. It looks as if they want to find a problem for the solution they already have (in mind). They seem to try to justify the purchase of a shiny object without being able to clearly define the problem they are trying to solve.
But how come? Is it because they have seen “it” work in another company? Is it because they believe that it’s important to “not fall behind competition”? Is it because they’re lazy or dumb? Is it because they blindly follow analysts’ magic quadrants and blue-chip consultants’ advice? I don’t think so.
I think it is because they do not have a clear understanding of the problems they are trying to solve. And that is a direct consequence of not having a clear, and common, understanding of the problems their Customers are trying to solve. In other words: they do not understand the jobs their Customer are trying to get done, the outcomes they desire and – most importantly – they do not understand their own role in it. And if you do not understand all that, you really do not have a clear picture of the capabilities you need to develop.
If you experience these challenges yourself or you see people around you struggle, here’s five questions I ask my students that may be of help to you.
- What (job) is your Customer trying to get done?
- How is she trying to get it done and what does she expect/want/desire from doing and completing it?
- What channels/products/services/touch-points is she “hiring” to get the job done?
- Where is she failing and why? How is she experiencing her journey and the outcomes from it?
- What could/should you be doing to prevent her from failing and improve her experience?
So, please tell me: what (Customers’) problems are you solving?