The Problem Pause

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Whenever we face a problem, why is it that we invariably jump into fix or solution mode?

Why don’t we spend more time understanding the problem?

Is it that we have a pathological fear of problems?

Or, is it that we equate fixing something with being productive?

Is it that it shows our peers that we are doing something and we are effective?

Or, is it that taking the time to think (which can look a lot like doing nothing) isn’t valued?

Perhaps, we should pay more attention to Albert Einstein, who once famously said:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study from 2010 bears out Einstein’s approach.

They found that firms that were reactive, hard-charging and always fixing tended to have lower sales and profitability than those that took time to pause.

Those that paused and took time to slow down, reflect on the problems that they faced and how they should approach them, averaged “40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period.”

So, what happens when you face or discover a problem?

Do you jump into fix mode?

If you are like most leaders, in most organisations, then the answer is probably yes.

So, how about doing something different for a change?

How about pausing and thinking about the problem for a change?

The research suggests that’s where some of those next-level experience insights that you are seeking sit.

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This passage is an extract from my recent book Punk XL, published in December 2021, as a follow-up to Punk CX.

The challenge within ‘The Problem Pause’ feels particularly relevant right now, given that many economies and businesses around the world are facing rising interest rates, spiking inflation, supply chain issues and increased economic and competitive pressures.

The standard response to such pressures would be to cut budgets and headcount. These sorts of cuts, however, generally affect customer service more than any other department, given their relatively high headcount and cost base. But, they also tend to undermine an organisation’s ability to deliver outstanding service and a great experience.

The problem is that customer service and experience are still important regardless of the economic conditions we face. In fact, I would argue that when times get tough, excellent service and experience are more important than ever as customers become ever more discerning about where they spend their money and whom they do business with.

Acting in such a way feels like a ‘fix’ mode response.

So, what would happen if, when faced with these pressures, we paused and considered what could be a better response?

Some companies have already resisted the temptation to jump into ‘fix’ mode, paused, and subsequently decided to do something different.

Some have decided to increase their investment in customer service and experience, both in terms of headcount and their utilisation of technology, as they believe that offering excellent service and experience is the key to retaining customers and ensuring the health of their business going forward

Despite having to weather some cuts to headcount and budgets, some have decided to consolidate and focus their support teams on fewer channels to maintain their high service standards with fewer resources.

They have paused and have decided to do something different.

What are you going to do?

This post was originally published on the Enghouse Interactive blog.
Image by Nikin from Pixabay

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