04 June 2013 ~ Comments Off

3 Steps to empower problem solving

I’m not suggesting we all take the Tom Sawyer approach to solving problems. I’m just suggesting we get more people involved with the process.

Here I want to look at ways of both discovering and solving the problems we have in customer facing Ecommerce.


Get people involved, empower ownership, reward everything.

Hopefully with the information/data you gain from these kind of exercises your not just going to get ways to improve how your customers interact with the company but your also going to get killer content ideas. Win.


One thing I do almost as soon as I start working with a company is talk to the people closest to the customer , lets call them customer champions. In some companies you have people that handle the purchase and people that handle the customer service side. Who you deem to be the most important or first to deal with would be decided by your first goal, gain more customers/retain more customers.

Customer Champions (you’ll warm to it) are the best tool you have at finding and solving problems in the buying (goal achieving) process. I’m not dumbing down the importance of good analysis, customer surveys and the like. What I am saying is that the people closest to your customers can become great analysts, customer surveys and the like. I want to encourage customer champions to see how their direct access and insights can effect how well a company performs. Get them into this mindset!

You can start simple and get customer champions  to write down questions they get and the answers they gave in the structured format. Maybe a spreadsheet or something.  I make sure to add a section for a tally so we can see how many times the question comes up.  You now have a sheet saying “hey we get asked this question a lot about X, maybe we should do Y to stop this from happening”. You can approach this in a number of ways. Some good ones are to collate the problems into an in-house email and ask for some suggestions fixing them or Just ask individuals about the problems there having. Rinse and repeat.

Quick note. This may not work but when it does it really helps with that mindset. Instead of using a tally have a column for positive and negative responses. It’s interesting to see how the answer to questions start to change just enough to get a better response (simple a/b testing ). You see how the concept works.

We as a species are problem solvers. Nurture that and things start to get crazy.



Its important that people take ownership and you provide the information or tools they need to complete the process.You can implement the changes, provide insight or the data needed to make the decision solid. You just can’t complete the process yourself. If you do, you fail, hard.

Sometimes questions simply pose more questions. That’s where things like site analytics and surveys come in.  If a customer champion needs some information to make a decision, provide it. They find it, they understand it, they solve it. Simple!

When it comes to solving the problem its super important that you document at least the 5 following things.

1) The problem

2) The solution

3) The desired result or the expected effects your solution will have the problem.

4) The actual result

5) The did we achieve point 3! If not why? (no reason other than uniformity for “the” to be there)


Having this information clearly documented and shareable helps provide ownership and for others to see the process. It gives you; “We did this work and it resulted in awesomeness.” Or not as the case may be, but “we now know X which means Y.”



We all know it’s important to  reward success and people do it in different ways.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you how to reward a job well done because I’ve found it really depends on the culture in the office. How they react to group rewards for potentially individual success or any other scenario.

Just be sure to reward it. It doesn’t need to be big, just something.


If you like the idea or not, feedback is always appreciated. Why not leave a comment.

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