From adolescence well into my start in the working world, I’ve never considered myself a “fixer.” If something was broken, whether it was a bracelet or my iPhone, I always turned to someone else for help (usually my dad, or one of my friends who worked at the Apple Genius bar). It never occurred to me that I could one day be someone that others turned to to help solve their problems. That all changed when I joined the Client Solutions team at Percolate last year.

In this role, I joined a team of strategists who are responsible for coming up with fast, creative solutions to solve for key client needs and make clients happy. Whether it’s mapping out complex workflows or advising on platform integrations, one of the most rewarding aspects of our job is helping clients find effective, efficient solutions to their daily challenges. I’ve seen a change in how I approach my role now compared to a year ago when I first joined the team.

How I became the fixer I am today happened in two phases: becoming a systematic problem solver and developing specific technical proficiency. In this post, I will look at how our team implements creative problem solving strategies that are simultaneously structured yet fluid, to arrive at the best solutions for our clients.

Part 1: Systematic Problem Solving

When I jumped into this role, not only was I required to have a complete understanding of the product, but I also had to learn about how we solve our client problems. As I started to think about our process, I realized that as our company has grown it has evolved into an approach that is both systematic, yet personalized – and it now feels second nature:

Step 1: Constant Questioning.

When we get contacted by a client with an inquiry about the platform, the first part of our job is to ask questions. A lot of questions. Not only does this allow us to better diagnose the issue, but it speaks to who we are as a team and as a company. Constant Questioning is also one of our Percolate values. We believe that curiosity and continuous learning are key components to our broader success, because it allows each of us, in every role, at every level make the best decisions possible.

Step 2: Collaborate to identify the root cause.

After we’ve gathered a ton of information, we try to recreate the issue our clients experienced. This is a highly important step, as it allows us to guide our product team toward diagnosing the key issue. After attempts to recreate the issue, then we identify our top suspects, which typically fall into one of the below categories:

User Education: Our tool is designed to support a diverse set of workflows – we aim to be as flexible as possible to accommodate our client’s personal preferences. That being said, our product is also built with a specific vision and design in mind, which can sometimes lead to confusion from users on how to best use the tool. We make sure to address most of these questions in our initial onboarding training sessions.

APIs: Our business development team works very closely with our platform partners, to ensure we have as much access as possible to their platform APIs. Occasionally there are limitations, and it’s our job to communicate those to our clients.

New Features: Our product is constantly evolving – often there are several new features to cover with clients on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. “Shipping > Not Shipping” is also another one of our values, which means that we have to anticipate client questions and frequently update them on product improvements.

Bugs: Sometimes bugs happen. By developing close relationships with both our clients and our product team, we are often alerted to them immediately and we can help get our product team working on resolving them within minutes.

All of the solutions to these issues happen because of one thing: we communicate. A lot. Whether it’s via our internal chat rooms, email or face to face, our team is constantly in touch, getting feedback or learning about other client issues. We have a set structure, with paired managers and associates who get to know their clients’ process and workflows. While we have our smaller teams, we still often reach out to the broader group to collaborate and troubelshoot. So if we hear something from one of our own clients, we typically reach out to another team member to see if their clients are having similar issues. This process also helps the engineering team quickly identify, prioritize and solve for common client issues.

Step 3: Bring it back to the client.

After we’ve fully investigated the issue, we state our case. In addition to identifying the “culprit” so to speak, we offer up solutions. Sometimes it’s revamping a workflow, or retraining a client on how to better leverage the tool. Other times, it’s circling back with our product team to find creative ways to avoid the problem in the future. Regardless of the solution, it always comes back to client happiness.

Learning how to dig up the root cause of a problem for a client was only the first step of my professional development here at Percolate. The second step — which really happened in parallel — was my education in technology. I’m of an age where technology has almost always been a part of life, so it was never totally foreign to me. But working at a software company, I’ve had to learn a whole new layer of how technology functions in tandem with marketing.

In my next post, I’ll explain how having technical fluency has helped me deliver better service to clients but has also has built my confidence and made me a stronger employee.