You’ve likely come across pain points in your life—road work causing a traffic jam or a store not having enough cash registers—and wondered why someone doesn’t do something about it. Customer pain points produce a similar reaction, but instead of finding a different route home, the customer might find a new business to frequent.
Don’t ignore issues and let them push customers away. Instead, learn how to identify and fix them so your customers receive the experience they expect.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What is a pain point?
- Understanding customer pain points + their impact
- Types of customer journey pain points to look out for
- How to identify customer pain points
- How to address customer pain points
- 5 common pain point examples
- How we resolved a customer pain point
What is a pain point?
Customer pain points are the issues customers experience when using your product or interacting with your service. These problems negatively impact the customer experience and must be addressed to attract new business and improve customer retention.
Convenience is a deciding factor in doing business with a company, so make your processes as smooth as possible. Customer journey pain points can be anything from slight hiccups in your service to major deal breakers. Either way, when you fail to address problems within your organization, you risk losing your customers.
Understanding customer pain points + their impact
Addressing business pain points will improve your product or service while giving you a competitive edge. By understanding customer issues, you’ll gain an understanding of what customers need and expect from the companies they buy from. Once you identify them, your sales team can ask prospective customers the right questions during discovery calls to position your service or product as the preferable option.
Types of customer journey pain points to look out for
You can separate common customer pain points into four categories. Learning these categories can make it easier to recognize areas of improvement in your business and provide a starting point for addressing problems.
Process pain points
Process pain points refer to your organization’s internal procedures that hinder the customer journey. The buying process is a frequent contributor to this type of issue and can be indicated by:
- Complicated sales transactions
- Prolonged deployment times
- Disorganized help center
Financial pain points
Financial pain points are associated with the costs of doing business with your company. Your product or service can be exactly what the customer is looking for, but if the price is outside their budget, they’ll go to another brand. Financial problems can take the form of:
- Hidden fees that get added at checkout
- Expensive membership fees
- Products that must be frequently replaced
Support pain points
Support pain points refer to the customer’s interactions with your sales and customer service teams. Support and process pain points are similar, but support pain points focus on shortcomings in your team’s performance rather than company practices. Common support issues are:
- Slow response times
- Poor success rates at resolving issues
- Insufficient product knowledge
Product pain points
Product pain points are any deficiencies in your product or service. They hurt your customer’s productivity and prevent them from achieving their desired results. Product problems include:
- Inconvenient workflows
- Underwhelming features
- Inconsistent computer servers
How to identify customer pain points
After learning the types of customer pain points, study your business to learn which problems may be present. There are three general ways to accomplish this.
1. Gather customer feedback
One of the best ways to identify customer pain points is by going directly to your customers. Leverage qualitative market research to learn about the issues customers experience, their current level of satisfaction, and what they might desire moving forward.
Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to execute this, but rather than asking multiple-choice questions, lean into open-ended questions. For example:
- “What was the greatest struggle during the sales process?”
- “What would you change about our product?”
- “How can our customer service team provide you with a better experience?”
By letting customers answer in their own words, you won’t be leading them to make a conclusion you’re already aware of. Instead, they’re allowed to identify problems you didn’t know existed.
Apply the same practice to focus groups and community forums. You can provide topics of conversation and let your customers build on each other’s responses to fully understand their perspectives.
As a Director of Customer Experience at Zendesk, I’ve found that it’s imperative to provide scalable means for customers to share pain points to collect product feedback.
Rather than manually poring over the hundreds or thousands of conversation threads in community forums, you can use software to automate data collection to identify common trends.
2. Talk to sales and support teams
Customers can identify the problems they’re experiencing, but they might not always be able to articulate how to fix them. Your sales and customer support teams, on the other hand, have the expertise to provide actionable feedback. They can explain what’s going on behind the scenes that may cause inefficiencies.
When you speak with your teams about the customer problems they’ve seen, apply a similar approach to your open-ended questions as you did with customers. For example:
- “What problems do you run into most frequently?”
- “What do customers complain about the most?”
- “Which changes would you recommend prioritizing?”
3. Analyze customer data
Aside from conducting qualitative research, you’ll also want to spend time collecting hard data as well as identifying insights. For example, customer churn rate will tell you how many customers are churning, but it may be more insightful to understand customer churn (and contraction) reasons. This will help fill in the blanks and back up your customers’ and employees’ claims.
Examining your key performance indicators (KPIs) is a good place to start to see which areas of your operation might be lacking. If you aren’t already doing so, consider tracking metrics like:
- Customer churn rate and churn insights
- Average resolution time and resolution time insights
- Conversion rate and conversion insights
- Cart abandonment rate and insights
Many platform analytics can work in real-time to capture these results for you, decreasing the labor required to gather and measure them.
How to address customer pain points
Identifying your pain points isn’t the end—it’s the beginning. Now you must resolve them and work hard to ensure they don’t return.
1. Make it easy to get help
Most customers don’t want their hands held every step of the way, but they do want to be attended to when they need it. Self-service features (like knowledge bases) reinforce customer independence and facilitate their search for answers. Live chat provides a direct channel to support teams.
2. Use the right software
If all your team has is a hammer, they’ll treat every problem like a nail. Pain points are unique, so they require unique solutions. Fortunately, there are many software solutions built around solving specific issues:
3. Look for pain point trends
Measure the customer experience by tracking key metrics to learn where your business might lag. If you identify multiple pain points around a certain process or within a single department, it’s a sign that there’s a larger issue that needs attention. The responsible team might require:
- Deeper training
- More team members
- Better resources to execute their tasks
4. Follow up with customer complaints
After taking steps to resolve business pain points, talk to your customers. They’ll tell you if your actions solved the problem, if it persisted, or if it led to new issues. Keeping the customer’s perspective top of mind will reinforce a customer-obsessed culture within your organization.
5. Send feedback to the right teams
Let departments know how the customer perceives their service. Even if a certain pain point might take a long time to fix, there might be things they can do to compensate in the meantime. Likewise, if you receive feedback that the situation is improving, passing that information along can reinforce their behavior.
6. Continuously optimize the customer journey
Keeping your business competitive requires constant attention. Don’t neglect areas after you’ve evaluated them and made improvements—constantly look for ways to deliver better customer experiences. A customer experience strategy can ensure team members stay aligned on company goals and share the responsibility of seeing them through.
From my experience, I believe customer pain points manifest culturally and via a team’s ability to deliver. A good operation should have awareness of these problems and contingencies to maneuver around them.
5 common pain point examples (+ solutions)
Customers have unique needs and expectations, so it can be difficult for a company to accommodate everyone all at once. However, that won’t decide your success—your response to them will. Look to these common customer pain points for tips on how to solve them.
A recurring financial pain point is a feature that is too expensive for customers to get what they want from it. A tiered plan structure helps businesses of all sizes use your product or service, but premium features are often reserved for the most expensive plans. If a customer is looking into your product or service specifically for one of those features but it’s outside of their budget—which is particularly common during economic downturns—they might not sign on with your company.
Example solution: If you were to offer a custom plan option—where a customer can select the features they have access to—your product or service with that premium feature might become attainable. The customer may pay more than a lower plan’s monthly cost, but they can still save money by only paying for the features they need.
Unresponsive support team
Staffing issues create problems for customers and employees. The customers don’t receive the answers they need in a timely manner, and employees get overwhelmed by their workload and are unable to deliver the intended quality of service.
Example solution: Update your internal processes with productivity best practices that can alleviate these support pain points. Use chatbots to manage conversations and direct customers to solutions that don’t require the intervention of your support team. Create a help desk that will organize tickets and a knowledge base that empowers customers to find answers independently.
Steep learning curve
A common barrier to entry for customers is when the product is complicated or requires technical knowledge. Getting up and running quickly is a priority for many customers, so being able to train their employees swiftly is a major selling point.
Example solution: You can improve the user experience by creating reference materials, like in-depth demos or templates, to help customers get acquainted with the product. Complex products might even require coaching sessions during the onboarding phase.
Have you ever been in a position where you need to take two or three steps to complete a task when one step should be enough? It can lead to a lot of headaches and hurt productivity. When there are redundant processes, you’ll create an opportunity for your competition to swoop in and steal your customers.
Example solution: Review your processes for specific problems your customers face and try to offer solutions. If you can continuously improve your customer experience management, you’ll incentivize all types of customers to stay with you.
A product that delivers on expectations should be a top priority for any company. Maybe your sales reps aren’t accurately explaining the product’s limitations, or maybe the product has a flaw you’re not aware of. Either situation can lead to dissatisfied customers.
Example solution: You can improve the functionality of your product or identify where the miscommunication is coming from by gathering customer feedback. Send surveys periodically or after company interactions to get a steady influx of customer insights.
How we resolved a customer pain point
To put this into context, let’s look at how our team resolved a product pain point in the past.
A customer was experiencing a limitation with our product that was inhibiting the extended application of their support solution. As part of their account team, I raised the issue with the internal executive sponsor and aligned everyone on what they were doing to address this limitation.
This gave the customer assurance that their pain point was being addressed. We invited the customer into product forums to shape the design of the solution, and then kept them informed on the progress of the build. Once it was ready, we gave the customer early access to the feature, and the customer provided feedback before the general release.
Takeaway: Closing the loop with the customer at all levels was a key part of this risk mitigation and communication strategy—open and transparent communication is fundamental.
Relieving customer pain points
You can resolve many customer problems with simple changes to your internal processes. More complicated issues may require additional tools like customer database software that enable you to level up your service and improve the customer experience.