Answers vs. Solutions
An answer is defined as:
- something you say or write when someone asks you a question
- a response to a question that is meant to show whether or not you know something
- the correct response to a question
On the other hand, a solution is:
- something that is used or done to deal with and end a problem
- the act of solving something
In today’s fluctuating benefits industry, a solution is a million times more valuable than an answer. The answer is the answer is the answer. But is it a solution? Answers can satisfy immediate needs—but solutions have long-term effects. Solutions allow businesses to expand, innovate and flourish.
Take Nordstrom for example. Notorious for service (not to mention the cause of a little shoe obsession I won’t get into here), Nordstrom manages to turn me into a buying customer virtually every time I visit their store. How? They have what I need before I’ve even realized I needed it.
If I want a specific pair of shoes in a size 6 and they don’t have it, they do the following:
- Offer to order the pair from a different store and ship it to me for free
- Bring me shoes that look like the pair I wanted. I didn’t even know I wanted that other pair instead!
The answer is they don’t have a size 6 for me at that time. The solution is these other options, which will result in me buying a pair of shoes right then and there.
I use this example in interviews and with new hires because this is my expectation. New Benefits is the Nordstrom of the discount industry. Solutions keep ‘em coming back. But answers? Eh…not always.
Shades of Grey
I saw this question somewhere, and it stuck with me: “Do you want to be right or do you want to be liked?” We want to be both!
I highly encourage our staff to operate in the grey. After all, the grey area is the place where solutions are born. Black and white just doesn’t work for us; and answers derived from the confines of a snug, little box are oftentimes short-lived.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
–Dulce Bozeman, EVP
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