Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an entrepreneur, investor, and healthcare strategist with over 20 years' experience leading technology-enabled healthcare organizations. Michael currently serves as CEO of Narus Health,...

Customer Centric Design of Products and Services

Is Your Business Addressing a Symptom… or Solving the Real Problem?

So many times when companies create a product or service, they lock in on the customer’s symptoms but not their real pain. Any sustainable solution you are going to offer has to be a “must have” - not a nice to have.   It has to get to the heart of the problem with laser focus.  So how do you make sure you’re solving the right problem?  Here are 4 basic rules to remember as you set out to create your products and services:

Rule #1:  No One Cares About Your Shiny Object

The sad reality is: no one cares about you either - except maybe your mom. So stop talking about yourself and your shiny object.  Always remember who is at the center of your customer’s attention - Himself (or Herself). People care most deeply about solving their own problems. They are preoccupied with their job, relationships, and their lives. Much of their brainpower goes trying to solve their own problems.  They feel their symptoms – but at the heart of their pain is a real problem to be solved. This is what you need to talk about.

Rule #2:  Remember the Signal to Noise Ratio

Everyone’s e-mails, tweets and to-do lists are overflowing. We all struggle to balance time between our work and our family, sleep and maybe some me-time. Most days, it seems impossible to even have a simple conversation with someone without being interrupted. And our attention spans keep plummeting. Your customers are no different – the noise they are surrounded by each day is deafening.  Your signal (your message) needs to stand out.  You MUST grab your customer’s attention. Remember what’s on their mind – themselves and their problems. That is where your signal must reach – and cut through the noise!

Rule #3: People Want to Get Paid or Made

You have a choice of solving many different problems. There are a few however, that will really get your customers interested.  Ask yourself - how does my solution tap into the emotional, powerful, evolutionary needs that we as humans have?  The more you connect to your customer’s fundamental needs - the closer you get to their core business - the easier it will be to capture their interest.  How does your solution help them make more money?  Feel Better? Improve their situation?

Rule #4: Your Early Customers Will Be Anxious About Buying From You

You get the customer’s interest – great!  Now you’ll have to overcome any concerns or reservations your customer may have. Perhaps your customer is so used to dealing with their problem in their own way, they simply cannot imagine a different (or better) solution. How do you break this barrier?  I suggest you paint a picture of a better world, show them a better way.  Remember this - the stronger the emotional link to the problem you are solving, the more magical this new world will seem to the customer.  Also keep in mind that this new potential customer may simply not trust you yet (even though they like you). You build trust in different ways, but showing a deep understanding of someone’s problem is a great start.  Consistency is another. 


Choosing the right problem to solve for the right customer will help you get their attention; arouse their interest; increase the conversion rates; and shorten sales cycles.  But you won’t get the deal done by chasing symptoms.  You have to learn to observe the customer’s symptoms – and then carefully diagnose the real root problem that gets at the heart of a “must have.”  If you do that – you will create a really powerful business.

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