Do you ever stop to think about why you work with certain companies? Whether it’s the bank that has great hours and no ATM fees or the auto mechanic that doesn’t overcharge, there is one trend that is common among preferred vendors: they’re problem solvers.
And while the problem solvers you face in your personal life help you get things done, problem solvers can be an incredible boost to your business. In fact, you probably already work with quite a few problem solvers yourself (hint: like CRi!). The ability to be a problem solver isn’t often recognized, but it is a driving force in customer service and ultimately, revenue generation.
Figuring out how to “be” a problem solver.
Now that you know customers are looking for a problem solver, it should be easy to go out there and solve problems, right? Not so fast! There are certain traits you should have and certain steps you should take to be a true problem-solving asset to your customers. As an account executive here at CRi, I meet with clients regularly and am charged with developing and implementing staffing solutions to their problems. To offer you some tips on problem solving for your own clients, I thought about how we solve our clients’ problems, and have broken it down into a few simple tips:
- Do your research. Before I even talk to or meet with a client, I have already taken the time to research their company and its history to have an understanding of who they are and what they do. Going into any process armed with an initial background is important to fully understand their problems (and how you can solve them).
- Ask the right questions. Once you start the process, asking targeted questions is essential to having an in-depth understanding of the problem. Do you see a trend here? Your solutions are surely fantastic, but if you don’t take the time to understand every aspect of your client and their problems, you won’t have what you need to find the right solution. For example, when I meet with a client, I come in with a range of questions to pinpoint the precise IT talent needs to meet their need/solve their problem.
- Focus on building trust. Asking questions and working with clients is the legwork that leads to solutions and ultimately results in a stronger client relationship. Once you’ve built a solid foundation of trust, your clients will see you as more of a valued partner than a vendor. More trust leads to a longer, more beneficial working relationship.
- Don’t be afraid to pause sometimes. There are times when your clients will need a solution to their problem as soon as possible; however, sometimes you may have to pause or even take a step back to ensure you are providing the right solution and not simply being reactionary. I recently had an example of this very situation with a client who articulated the talent needed to help them solve an organizational problem. When several IT consultants weren’t the right match for a client, I suggested we step back and review the initial need for talent, then propose the right qualifications for the role. After taking that step back and further clarifying the actual problem, I presented another candidate to the client … whom they immediately hired. Afterward, the client thanked me for suggesting a step back, as the end result was much better than if we had simply continued on the same path until someone “acceptable” was found. You never want to provide an “acceptable” solution to your clients — you want to surpass their expectations! And sometimes a step back is the way to do it.
- Create an environment of collaboration. I’ll admit it; sometimes I’m not the one who comes up with all the genius solutions to our clients’ problems. In fact, CRi is made up of a team of problem solvers. And one reason we’re able to help each other provide unique, scalable solutions to our clients’ problems is that our work environment fosters collaboration. Whether it’s through seating arrangements or frequent brainstorming meetings (or both), encourage your team to chime in with suggestions or ideas to help … clients, prospective clients, or even your own business. You might be surprised at the great ideas your employees have—even outside of their areas of expertise!
Those are some of the problem-solving traits I’ve identified in working with our clients. What other traits do you think a strong problem solver should have? Let us know in the comments section—we’d love to hear your suggestions!
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