Improve customer experience by addressing pain points

Editor’s note: Marcus Manns is the head of marketing at mecs.Design. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “How to find and understand customer pain points.”

If you’re running a business or marketing department, it’s important to understand your customer’s pain points. These are the places where they’re having trouble or frustration. By understanding these pain points, you can begin to address them and improve the customer experience.

There are a few ways to find your customer’s pain points. They all boil down to asking the right people the right questions. The people can be customers, customer-facing employees or survey respondents. The questions need to focus on any kind of dissatisfaction (pain point). Having a variety of questions will serve as prompts, leading the person in directions that can help identify customer pain.

Finding customer pain points

First, you’ll need to know where to look, what types of customer pain are most common and how to identify the pain points in your customer experience.

Understand the customer’s perspective

Before launching into your research, it’s good practice to get your mind attuned to your customer’s perspective. One of the best ways we know of is called Jobs Theory, also known as Jobs to Be Done, a framework created by Clayton Christensen. Jobs Theory posits that customers don’t buy a product or service to fulfil a basic need. They “hire” them to do a job. That job could be something as simple as making them feel more confident or organized. Every product or service is hired to do a specific job for the customer. In other words, your customers aren’t thinking about your product or service in the same way that you are. They’re thinking about what your product or service can do for them

This is an important distinction to make because it changes the way you think about your customer’s needs. Instead of thinking, “What does our product do?” You should be asking, “What job does our product do for the customer?”

Christensen recommends that you make a list of all the times someone has used your product or service. Then, for each instance, ask yourself what job they were trying to get done. Your job, then, is to ask questions that will lead your customers to tell you about their pain points. 

Ask your customers

Where better to get answers about customer pain points than from the customers themselves? There are a few ways to go about this.

One way is to simply reach out and ask them. This can be done via e-mail, social media, phone or even in person. Another way to get feedback from customers is to use surveys. This could be something as simple as a Net Promoter Score survey. 

Another great source of information for customer pain points is your own team: customer-facing employees. These are the people who interact with customers daily, such as salespeople and customer service representatives. They know what’s going on and can give you some great insights.

To get this information, you can hold regular meetings with customer-facing employees. You can also create an anonymous survey for them to fill out. This is a great way to get honest feedback without anyone feeling like they might get in trouble for speaking up.

Social media can be a useful place to learn about your customers. Listening tools can constantly monitor social media platforms for mentions of your brand, as well as key phrases and competitor brands. This can give you a good idea of what people are saying about you and your industry. You might uncover customer frustrations or even complaints that you might never have known about. Plus, it’s a discreet and easy way to understand customer pain points in your business. 

Conduct market research

If you have the budget and resources, you might consider doing some broader market research. This might make sense if you’re a startup or fledgling, early-stage business with too few customers. This could give you some great insights into your target market.

There are many ways to conduct market research. You might use focus groups, interviews or online surveys. There are also companies that specialize in conducting market research. Although this process can be costly, it will allow you to pinpoint your customers’ pain points. If your competitor’s customers are unsatisfied with a specific facet of their service, see if there’s a way for you to do better.

Recognizing customer pain points

Understanding common types of customer pain will help you recognize them quickly. Below are some broad categories of customer pain points.

Product quality

This could be anything from a physical product that’s defective to a software bug. If your customers are constantly having problems with the quality of your product, that’s a huge pain point. Quality issues can damage your reputation and cost you a lot of money in returns and replacements.

Customer service

Poor customer service is a pain point. This could be anything from long wait times to unhelpful or rude employees. If your customers are constantly having problems with your customer service, you need to take action.

If you offer some sort of support service, customer pain points can arise there as well. This could be anything from long wait times to unhelpful or unqualified employees. If your customers are constantly having problems with your support service, you need to take action. You might introduce a warranty or satisfaction guarantee to alleviate this pain point.

Financial pain

Another type of customer pain point is financial. This could manifest in a few different ways. It could be hidden fees, unexpected costs or anything else that causes your customers to spend more money than they expected. Financial pain points can be a major problem for businesses, as it can damage your reputation and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. Perhaps your customers feel like they’re paying too much for your product or service. Or maybe they need a payment plan or some other type of financing.

Financial pain points can be an entry barrier for potential customers too. If they feel like your product or service is too expensive, they might not even bother considering it. Therefore it’s important to understand any pricing pain points and offer financing options if possible.

Process pain

Process pain points are another common type of customer complaint. This could be anything from a complicated checkout process to a lengthy and confusing return policy. If your customers are constantly running into problems with your process, that’s a pain point.

Ask the right questions

Below are some examples of what questions you might ask to find customer pain.

  • What is the biggest business challenge you currently face?
  • What are you not happy with? What isn’t working for you, regarding the product or service?
  • What do you wish was different? What would you change and how?
  • What do you think is missing?
  • What’s the biggest thing we could do to improve your experience?
  • What are your overall priorities?
  • What would your perfect solution be? What would a successful outcome look like?

These questions will help you get to the root of your customers’ pain points.

Every business is different and the questions you ask will probably be unique to your situation. But you can see that they all relate to the same goal and the variations are a way to coax answers from people and get them thinking. Posing the question from different angles will give you a better understanding of what the pain points are.

Fixing customer pain points

Once you’ve identified your customers’ pain points, it’s time to start solving them. In some cases, you might be able to resolve the issue quickly and easily. But in other cases, it might take some time and effort. The most important thing is to listen to your customers and take their pain points seriously. Only then can you start working on solutions that will make a difference for them. If you can make your customers’ lives easier, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty and business.