You know, Russell Ackoff had a really good point when he said, “Successful problem solving requires finding the right solution to the right problem. We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” Really gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
It’s so true – what’s the point in putting in all that hard work if you’re not even addressing the core issue? You’ll just end up with something that doesn’t really help anyone.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a second. When you’re looking for a product, it’s because you have some problem or need you’re hoping to solve, right? Well, customers are the same – they don’t just buy things for fun. They want stuff that improves their lives.
Figuring out the real problems people face is so significant if you want to build the right product. You must understand what’s actually bothering them and get to the root of their issues. Only then can you dream up genuinely innovative solutions. It takes real empathy to get it right.
At the end of the day, satisfying customers is the name of the game. But to do that well, you need to love learning about people’s challenges as much as building the products. Get the problems right, and the solutions will follow!
What You NEED to Know About Problems Before You Can Solve Them
Before jumping into building the right product, take time to understand the problem you’re trying to truly solve. Dig below the surface to get valuable insights.
Who is Impacted? Start by identifying specifically who is affected. Define your target users clearly so you know exactly whose needs your solution should meet.
Determine the Real Impact. Dig deeper – how does this issue genuinely impact people’s lives? Is it a minor annoyance or more serious, like lost money or frustration? Understanding consequences helps prioritize where to focus your efforts.
Uncover Root Causes. Don’t just address surface symptoms. Analyze data and talk to users and experts to uncover what’s fueling the problem at its core. Sustainable solutions require tackling underlying drivers, not just visible signs.
Evaluate Existing Options. Have others tried solving this issue before? Take an objective look at current approaches – see what’s working well and where others may have fallen short. Leverage Lessons from both successes and failures.
With a well-researched understanding of the situation, you’ve laid the foundation for meaningful progress. Refrain from settling for assumptions. Make sure any solution you build addresses real user needs to get uncovered through diligent problem investigation.
How to Solve the Right Problems and Build Products That People Actually Need
- Understanding the Art of Problem Identification
- Market Research and Needs Assessment
- Building a Problem-Centric Mindset
- Ideation and Solution Generation
- Prototyping and Validation
- Launching Your Product
1 Understanding the Art of Problem Identification
Proper problem identification is the make-or-break first step in any problem-solving process. It requires truly understanding what’s going on rather than making assumptions.
Getting Clear on the Real Issues
There are several reasons why it is essential to pinpoint the right problems.
First, it helps to ensure that resources get allocated efficiently and effectively. When you know what the real problems are, you can focus your attention and efforts on solving them rather than wasting time and energy on addressing the wrong issues.
Second, pinpointing the correct problems helps us to develop more sustainable solutions. When you understand the root causes of a problem, you can develop solutions that address those causes rather than simply treating the symptoms. It helps to prevent the problem from recurring in the future.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Several common pitfalls can occur in problem recognition.
One common blunder is concentrating on the visible signs of a problem rather than the root cause. For example, suppose a company is experiencing high customer turnover. In such a scenario, the indication could be customers’ dissatisfaction with the company’s products or services. However, the root cause of the problem may be something else, such as poor customer service or a lack of product innovation.
Another common pitfall is to rely on intuition or gut instinct to identify problems. While intuition can be valuable, you must back up our intuitions with data and evidence. Otherwise, you risk making assumptions that may not be accurate.
The Empathy Advantage
Empathy is an essential skill for problem identification because it allows us to see problems from the perspective of others. It is imperative when identifying problems affecting others, such as customers, employees, or community members.
You can learn more about target markets’ needs and concerns when you empathize with them. You can use this information to identify the problems that are most important to them and to develop solutions that will meet those needs.
Strengthen Your Skills
Keep an open mind to reconsider biases. Question what you “know” with curiosity instead of certainty. Gather quantitative and qualitative evidence to ground hypotheses. Consider all stakeholders’ perspectives. Locate causes beneath visible effects for durable solutions.
2 Market Research and Needs Assessment
Building the right products customers love and buy is core to any business’s success. However, to strike the right chord with users, it is imperative first to understand their needs, pain points, and preferences. Here, comprehensive market research acts as the cornerstone.
Effective market research helps gather valuable insights on existing and potential customers. It illuminates the gaps in the market and opportunities that exist.
By uncovering deeper needs and realities, organizations can develop products tailored to solve actual problems rather than relying on assumptions, data, and feedback from the target audience to guide product strategy and roadmap.
Some critical aspects of conducting needs-focused market research include:
Surveys and Interviews
Surveying a representative sample of current and prospective customers is a direct way to gather qualitative and quantitative inputs.
Surveys should aim to understand customer demographics, pain points, jobs to get done, and desired outcomes. Complimenting surveys with interviews allows for diving deeper into perspectives and nuances.
Tip: SurveyMonkey’s data highlights a crucial insight: as the length of a survey increases, respondents tend to spend less time answering individual questions. Longer surveys may cause survey takers to rush through questions, potentially compromising the quality and precision of their answers. It’s essential to balance gathering comprehensive data and respecting respondents’ time and attention to maintain the integrity of survey results.
User Feedback Analysis
Leveraging analytics from existing products and customer support channels reveals how users experience solutions. Tools like net promoter scores, customer satisfaction ratings, feature usage data, and support transcripts surface issues and suggest improvements directly from end-users.
Analyzing customer and market data points to unsatisfied needs, underserved segments, and functionalities lacking in present offerings. These insights bring to light specific gaps and opportunities where innovation can make a difference. Prioritizing needs that are significant yet inadequately met sets the stage for winning solutions.
With a complete market research-driven needs assessment as a foundation, organizations can determine the right products to develop, optimize their value proposition, and build solutions with the deepest utility for target users. It positions them for greater customer loyalty, advocacy, and long-term business success.
Looking for a seamless survey tool that can help you every step of the way? Chisel’s product management software has an amazing survey tool with pre-existing templates, saving you time and delivering efficient results.
3 Building a Problem-Centric Mindset
A problem-centric mindset is a way of thinking that focuses on understanding and solving the root cause of problems rather than simply implementing solutions. It’s about asking the right questions and digging deep to get to the heart of the matter.
Here are some suggestions for building a problem-centric mindset within your organization:
Ask “Why?” Five Times
This is a simple but effective way to get to the root cause of a problem. For example, if you’re trying to figure out why your website traffic is down, you might ask yourself:
- Why is our website traffic down?
- Why are people not visiting our website?
- Why are people not finding our website in search results?
- Why are people not clicking on our website links?
- Why are people not converting on our website?
You’ll be able to identify the underlying problem that you need to address.
Develop Deep Customer Insights
Conduct in-depth research through contextual inquiries, diary studies, and collaborative work sessions. Get underneath surface-level feedback to truly grasp customer pain points and opportunities for improvement.
Establish a Feedback Loop
Continuously engage customers throughout the development process. Bring concepts and prototypes back for real-time validation. An open dialogue will keep the focus on problems rather than prematurely locking in on solutions.
Measure Success Differently
Track metrics that reflect problem resolution rather than just feature usage. Did customers report a reduced level of frustration? Greater feeling of control or confidence? True problem-solving will drive engagement.
For example, Amazon has used this process to create a problem-centric product, the Amazon Kindle. Amazon identified the problem of book lovers having to carry heavy books with them and not being able to find the books they wanted in stores. Amazon then developed the Kindle, which is a lightweight e-reader that allows users to carry around thousands of books with them.
4 Ideation and Solution Generation
This step involves brainstorming, creative thinking, and problem-solving to develop innovative ideas and design solutions that address user needs and market demands.
Effective ideation ensures the foundation for building products that meet customer expectations and achieve business goals. But the whole ideation process is no easy feat. According to research, 39% of marketers say coming up with ideas is “difficult” or “somewhat difficult.”
That is why we have come up with digestible steps to make it easier for you. Here is how to go about it:
Brainstorming Innovative Solutions
One of the most critical aspects of building the right products is to be able to generate innovative solutions. You need to think outside the box and come up with new and creative ideas. You can use several techniques to brainstorm innovative solutions, such as:
- Mind mapping: Mind mapping is a visual way to brainstorm ideas. It involves starting with a central topic and then branching into related subtopics. As you brainstorm, you can add branches and subtopics until you have a complete map of your ideas.
- Reverse brainstorming: This technique involves beginning with a problem and then brainstorming ways to make the problem worse. It can be a helpful way to generate new ideas, as it forces you to think about the problem differently.
- Brainstorming with others: Brainstorming can be a great way to generate new ideas. When you brainstorm with others, you can benefit from the diversity of their perspectives and experiences.
Chisel’s Idea Box is a great place to save ideas and feedback from users and team members. Get a quick view of all your ideas, and never worry about losing great ideas that could lead to innovative solutions.
Encouraging Cross-functional Collaboration
Deniz Efe, Founder of Fitness Equipped, says, “Effective team communication allows for the exchange of ideas, the sharing of resources, and the building of relationships. When team members work collaboratively, they can develop new ideas, improve their skills, and increase their productivity.”
Cross-functional collaboration is essential for building the right products. The involvement of various teams in creating a product enables them to share their experience and knowledge, giving rise to greater innovation and efficient solutions.
There are many ways to encourage cross-functional collaboration, such as:
- Creating cross-functional teams: Cross-functional teams can be very effective at developing new products bringing together different perspectives and expertise.
- Using shared tools and resources: Sharing tools and resources can help to encourage cross-functional collaboration. For example, you could create a shared workspace where teams can collaborate on documents and projects.
- Promoting a culture of collaboration: It is essential to promote a culture of collaboration within your organization. You can do this by rewarding collaboration and providing opportunities for people from different teams to interact and work together.
Chisel’s Team Radar pillar is your go-to tool for seamless cross-functional collaboration. Your team members can collaborate on ideas, vote and comment on features or roadmaps, and more.
Ensuring Solutions Align With Identified Problems
It is vital to ensure that your solutions align with the problems that you have identified. If your solutions do not address the real problems that people are facing, then they are unlikely to be successful.
There are several ways to ensure that your solutions align with identified problems, such as:
- Conducting user research: User research is essential for understanding the problems that people are facing. You can conduct user research through surveys, interviews, and usability testing.
- Analyzing customer feedback: Customer feedback can be a valuable source of information about the problems that people are facing. You can collect customer feedback through surveys, customer support tickets, and social media.
- Using data analytics: You can develop patterns and trends in your customers’ behavior with the help of data analysis.
5 Prototyping and Validation
Now that we’ve talked about the importance of focusing on customer needs and building the right products let’s look at how prototyping, testing with real users, and iterative refinement can help us to achieve these goals.
Prototyping is creating a working model of a product or service. It is an essential part of the product development process, allowing us to test our ideas and get feedback from users early on.
You can make prototypes from various materials and at different levels of fidelity.
For example, you might start with a simple paper prototype to test the basic concept of your product. Once you have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, you can create a more detailed prototype, such as a digital mockup or even a physical prototype.
Prototyping has many benefits, including:
- Early validation of ideas. Prototypes allow us to test our ideas with users early on in the development process. It helps us identify potential problems early on and make necessary changes before you invest too much time and money in development.
- Improved user experience. Prototypes allow us to get feedback from users on the usability and design of your product. The feedback can help you to make the product more user-friendly and enjoyable to use.
- Reduced risk. Prototyping helps us to reduce the risk of launching a product that is not successful. By testing your ideas with users early on, you can identify and address any potential problems before you release the product to the market.
Testing Your Solutions With Real Users
One of the best ways to get feedback on your product is to test it with real users. You can use various methods, such as user interviews, usability testing, and A/B testing.
Feedback is so important that according to a survey by SurveyMonkey, 91% of people believe companies should fuel innovation by listening to buyers and customers.
When testing your product with users, it is vital to be objective and listen to their feedback carefully. Don’t try to defend your design or argue with users. Instead, focus on understanding their needs and pain points.
User feedback can improve your product in many ways. For example, you might use feedback to:
- Identify usability problems. Users can tell you where they get stuck or confused when using your product. This feedback can improve the user interface and make the product easier.
- Discover new features or functionality. Users can tell you what features they would like to see in your product or how they would like to see the product improved.
- Validate your assumptions. Users can help you to validate your assumptions about what they want and need in a product.
Want to know what your customers think when they test your product? Then, use Chisel’s Feedback Portal. This feedback portal lets customers share their ideas with you. Customer feedback is a significant source of innovation, and that’s why we’ve created this portal to make it easy for your customers to share, store, and prioritize their ideas using a straightforward link.
Iterative Refinement Based on User Feedback
Once you have received user feedback, you should use it to iterate on your product. You need to make changes to your product based on the feedback you have received and then test it again with users.
The iterative refinement process should continue until you are satisfied that your product is the best it can be and that it meets the needs of your users.
6 Launching Your Product
Launching a product is a critical milestone in the product development process. It is the culmination of months or even years of hard work, and it is the moment when your product is finally made available to the world.
It takes careful planning and execution to successfully launch a product. There are many different factors to consider, such as:
- Target audience: Who do you want to reach out to with your product?
- Product messaging: How will you position your product in the market and communicate its benefits to potential customers?
- Launch channels: Where will you sell your product?
- Launch timeline: When will you launch your product?
- Launch budget: How much money do you spend on launching your product?
Having a well-structured roadmap is essential for a successful product launch. Chisel’s Roadmap Pillar is specifically designed to support a top-tier launch process. Whether you need help with release or timeline management, this product management tool has you covered.
Crafting a Compelling Product Launch Strategy
Your product launch strategy should get tailored to your specific product and target audience. However, some general tips can help you create a compelling launch strategy:
- Start early. If you’re planning on launching, don’t wait until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to develop a comprehensive launch plan and execute it effectively.
- Get your team on board. Make sure that everyone who is involved in the product development process is aware of the launch plan and their role in it.
- Create a buzz. Start generating excitement for your product launch before it even happens. You can do this through social media, public relations, and other marketing channels.
- Make it easy for people to buy your product. Make sure your product is available for purchase on your website and through other relevant channels. Make the checkout process easy and efficient.
- Follow up with customers. After people have purchased your product, follow up with them to make sure they are satisfied with it.
Leveraging User Insights for Marketing and Positioning
User insights can be incredibly valuable for marketing and positioning your product. By understanding the needs, wants, and pain points of your target users, you can develop marketing messages and positioning statements that resonate with them.
There are many different ways to collect user insights. You can conduct surveys, interviews, and usability testing. You can also monitor social media and online forums to see what people say about your product and competing products.
Once you have collected user insights, you must analyze them to identify the key themes. You can use these themes to develop marketing messages and positioning statements that are relevant and compelling to your target audience.
Measuring Success Through Key Performance Indicators
Measurement of the success of your product’s launch is necessary to ensure that you gain a better understanding of the experience and future strategy for launching products.
Key performance indicators that can get monitored for measuring the success of your product launch are various KPIs. Some common KPIs include:
- Website traffic: How many people visited your website during the launch period?
- Social media engagement: How many people engaged with your product launch content on social media?
- Leads generated: How many leads did you generate during the launch period?
- Sales: How many units of your product did you sell during the launch period?
By tracking these KPIs, you can get a sense of how well your product launch went and identify areas where you can improve in the future.
The key to building the right product lies in identifying and addressing the right problems. This article emphasized the importance of understanding your customers’ issues as the foundation for product development. From problem identification and comprehensive market research to incorporating customer feedback, we’ve explored the essential steps in this journey.
If you want to develop products that delight users, consider starting your next project with Chisel. The customer-centric product management tools can help you replicate this process of problem validation and solution development. Kick-start your product design by signing up for a free Chisel trial today. With Chisel’s help, you can be confident that every addition you make solves a problem for your customers.