Bump in the road? Get expert advice for unpicking problems

Is your team fed up of hitting the same bumps in your workflows, or mystified by something that isn't quite gelling? Anyone who's tried to address these sorts of issues knows it's harder than it looks to find answers that work without stopping something else working! We asked some of Third Light's expert problem solvers how they approach snags, hurdles and hiccups.

jigsaw puzzle piece

We usually refer to our software, Chorus, as a 'solution' for reasons that become apparent as it's used; through configuration and automation, it smooths and simplifies how teams work together. But its power to do this relies on human minds – the experts across Third Light who specialize in helping people solve their problems.

This could be right at the start of a purchasing path, as Carol Parish explores the requirements of people looking to choose from multiple products; later on, as they roll out and use Chorus with the assistance of Danny Smith's Customer Success team; or bringing technical issues to our Helpdesk, headed by Steve Holland. Meanwhile, in the Design team Sam Phillips is taking information from all these sources to refine and hone the product itself. Here are their tips for how they go about overcoming problems and transforming them into opportunities for improvement:

1. Take plenty of time to look at the problem

If you can't pinpoint the root cause of an issue, says Danny, then any solution based on surface assessment will only paper over the cracks. "When a customer comes to us with a solution already in mind, we always start the conversation with the original problem first. Asking 'why?' as many times as it often takes us to the areas we need to look at - and those might differ from what was being asked for originally."

"In our experience, hastily designed features cause more problems down the line," says Sam. "So we take a cautious approach, really thinking things through before changing anything. We talk to customers to gauge how big the problem is: how many people it affects, how much time our solution will save each team, and, if possible, we always try to solve more than one problem at once. If a feature fixes a problem for one group of users but overcomplicates things for another— we will have wasted our time."

Taking a moment to assess the urgency and potential impact of each problem means you can deal with everything at the correct time.

Steve Holland, Head of Support

2. Work out what's critical - and what can wait

When it comes to multiple problems that must be addressed immediately, it's a matter of triage, says Steve. "It might feel as if it's quicker just to dive in – but when requests are flying in from all angles, taking a moment to assess the urgency and potential impact of each one means you can deal with everything at the correct time."

3. Look further than you think might be necessary

It's always worth checking areas you might not even think relate to your problem, says Steve. "For example, we’ve been updated on issues that have completely puzzled us until we’ve asked the contact to look elsewhere in their environment; at the networks and systems that 'talk to' Chorus. More factors end up being related than anyone can anticipate."

"A lot of people come to us looking for the product they can picture," adds Carol, “but they might not know about the other things that could help them. Sometimes they're focused on their team's immediate needs and not yet considering the wider business. Exploration – even if you don't end up finding anything of value – is essential if you don’t want to miss hidden opportunities for solutions."

If anyone asks you to help them solve a problem and you don’t feel you have the expertise, don't feel obliged to 'have a go' – it's okay to find someone who's better equipped.

Carol Parish, Business Development Manager

4. Can't solve it? That’s fine! Just find someone who can

Carol's a passionate believer in team problem solving, and going to the people who already specialize in an area she might be unsure in. "And it’s totally fine to say you’re unsure," she adds. "If anyone asks you to help them solve a problem and you don’t feel you have the expertise, don't feel obliged to 'have a go' – it's okay to find someone who's better equipped. Maintaining and cultivating a network of people who can help you solve a problem isn't just the quickest route to a solution – it’s really healthy for company culture as well."

5. Don’t leave anyone behind in understanding

"We make sure to tailor our communication style to the person bringing us the problem," says Steve. "Are they in a marketing or a technical team – are they new to the product or a seasoned user? All these factors matter in terms of the understanding we need to deliver an effective resolution."

When you've finally identified what's needed, says Carol, don’t assume people are on the same level you've got to in terms of detail. "When you're explaining how the solution works, it's tempting to leap right in with the technical aspects," she explains, "especially if the breakthrough is exciting! But if you're talking to someone who is new to all your ideas, I'd say: show, don't tell. Seeing the solution in action is the best way of understanding the meaning behind it all."

The best designers... don’t just see the world as a set of puzzles that need solving — they see people who need help with something.

Sam Phillips, Head of Design

6. Try to view the process positively

"Solving problems is what design is all about," says Sam; "the best designers are very empathic as they must be able to see through other eyes. They don’t just see the world as a set of puzzles that need solving — they see people who need help with something. When you get it right it's incredibly satisfying — especially when you come up with a solution for someone before they realized they had a problem!"

For his team, Danny likes to think success is "when customers have achieved their goals and had a great experience doing so; we don’t want one without the other. We want people to come away not just happy that their problem is solved, but also having enjoyed the process of getting there with us."

Chorus solves so many problems for marketing and creative teams working together to produce content - especially remotely. If you have any issues with media production workflows, just [email protected]; we can take some time to help you explore the solutions Chorus can provide.

Author: Edie Mullen

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