Friday, August 29, 2014

The Problem Solving Process - Step 3: Selecting a Potential Solution

Continuing with the example of the long line-ups at the cashier, depicted in the August10th post, let’s focus on how the retailer might go about resolving this problem.  After studying the Fishbone Diagram (see below), the cross-functional CX team has decided to start the problem resolution process by addressing two items : 1) the store’s floor plan at the cashier space; 2) the scheduling of cashier staff.  How did they go about selecting these two areas as the starting point?  

Using the Fishbone Diagram to guide their strategic thinking, the team took the following approach:

  • What is the goal or aspiration?  To improve the customer’s shopping experience by providing an efficient method to pay for the items they’ve purchased.  Notice that the wording here is specific to a particular issue (paying for items purchased), yet general enough to allow for various potential solutions (“by providing an efficient method to pay…”).

  • What’s preventing us from reaching our goal?  As identified in the Fishbone Diagram, there are three potential obstacles: 1) the cash registers; 2) the expertise and / or availability of the cashier staff; 3) the store’s floor plan.

  • Which obstacles should we address such that the resolution comes with the lowest cost and correspondingly highest benefit?  This is an important concept because you’ll want to start your problem resolution by getting the most bang for your buck.  In this case, for example, it may be tempting to jump straight into the purchase of more technologically advanced cash registers, or perhaps consider using a mobile point of purchase application.  These potential solutions, however, likely come with high price tags, and may in fact, not result in the best outcome from a customer experience perspective.   When faced with several potential solutions, taking an iterative approach is prudent.  Select the obstacle or problem whose potential resolution comes with the least cost (time, resources, budget).  Design and evaluate the solution, and then determine whether this results in an improved customer experience…how do you do this?  We’ll address this question in an upcoming post which will discuss the closed-loop customer feedback approach in more detail.

We’ve now identified some potential causes of our store line-up problem, analyzed these causes in greater detail using a Fishbone Diagram, and most recently, selected a couple of possible solutions using the criteria of least cost and highest corresponding benefit.  In the next post, we’ll continue with the solution stage by looking at some tools that can be used for designing new processes.  Following that, we’ll then wrap-up our problem-solving process with a discussion on using customer feedback to determine if they think the solution we’ve developed is doing its job.

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