How to find and alleviate customer pain points: Tips, strategies, and examples

How to find and alleviate customer pain points: Tips, strategies, and examples
By Pedals | On May 27, 2022
17 min read
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The wheel. The telephone. The airplane. Toilet paper. What do all of these marvelous inventions have in common? 

They were created to solve a pain point.

Pain points are things we’re constantly looking to relieve or eliminate as part of our personal and professional lives. For businesses, minimizing customer pain points can be very lucrative. When a company examines patterns in pain points, it can use that information to build products and services that address them. Over time, this helps the company create repeat customers and increases their customers' overall lifetime value.

If you're looking to better understand customer pain points and how to alleviate them, then let's dive in!

In this article:

Why understanding customer pain points is important

Customer pain points are the things keeping your buyer up at night. They may be: 

  • Financial pain points, 
  • Productivity pain points 
  • Support pain points 
  • Process pain points

Think of these as your buyers’ biggest headaches. Not addressing these pain points can derail your buyer's journey or worse—ruin your customer experience.

According to Zendesk, 50% of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience. In the case of more than one bad experience, that number snowballs to 80%. This shows why it's so critical for companies to find and proactively address customer pain points.

Many companies were formed in direct response to consumer pain points—an opportunity to fill needs that weren’t yet being met in the market. Take Airbnb for example: Travelers craved authentic experiences that hotels couldn’t offer, and long-term vacationers wanted a way to bring in extra money by renting out their homes. Airbnb was developed with the purpose of meeting both of these needs in a single platform.

Pain points can even differ between companies in the same industry. For example, a Toyota customer may consider gas mileage to be their biggest pain point. However, gas mileage likely doesn’t matter much to someone who’s on the market for aTesla.

No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll have to address common customer pain points eventually. In order for your business to be proactive about resolving your customers' pain points, communication is key. Talk to the sales teams, customer support reps, and the customers themselves. Asking the following open-ended questions can help you begin to build a file of common customer pain points:

  • What’s preventing you from reaching your goals?
  • What is causing you to lose deals?
  • What takes most of your time/resources?
  • For customers: What changes to our process would improve customer experience? 

Once you identify the common pain point themes, it’s easier to build solutions to address them.

Types of customer pain points

Customer pain comes throughout all phases of the customer journey. Let's look at some of the most common customer pain points, examples of them, and strategies to handle them.

Productivity pain points

Customers want a seamless, streamlined, efficient path with minimal obstacles, wasted time, and back-and-forth. What happens when they don’t get it? It becomes a productivity pain point.

Example of a productivity pain point

For example, say that an organization holds so many meetings that they can’t get anything done. These meetings waste time and—if they discuss the same topics over and over—lead to frustration and become a major productivity pain point.

Strategies for handling productivity pain points

Getting a handle on this type of pain point creates greater functionality within your processes. Outline the goal and make sure everyone proactively handles their role—this helps to minimize the impact of this pain point. Also, consider requiring fewer steps within your processes to prevent productivity from becoming a major pain point.

Pro tip: Highlight time-saving features of your product and services. Easy-to-digest dashboards and quick ways to communicate effectively should be front and center.

Support pain points

Every support team's goal is to leave the customers smiling. When customers don’t get the support they need for a product or service, they're dealing with a support pain point.

Remember that Zendesk report we mentioned earlier? The one that finds that 80% of customers will drop you after more than one bad experience? That’s definitely not a statistic you want to be part of.

Example of a support pain point

A good example of a support pain point is if a company implemented a software system to help increase productivity. There is a learning curve. If the users can't get in touch with support, get vague answers when they reach out, or can't reach support because they have limited hours, these are support pain points.

Strategies for handling support pain points

Increasing the number of knowledgeable support staff is a good way to address support pain points. You can also improve your customer experience by deciding to automate parts of your support process, such as adding a live chat feature.

Pro tip: Add a helpful chatbot or create and moderate forums so your clients get accurate, thorough answers in real-time.

Test and compare customer support software before you buy

Financial pain points

"It costs too much" is a common customer pain point across every industry. If the customer stresses about the price of the product or service, it damages the customer experience.

Example of a financial pain point

One example of a financial paint point is extra monthly fees and costly subscription plans. These add up fast, which is why they irritate customers so much. Another example of a financial pain point that ruins a customer's day is frequent costly updates and upgrades to the product or service they've already purchased for their current solution.

Strategies for handling financial pain points

Strategies for addressing these types of customers' problems include offering high-quality products and services with no hidden fees, and transparent, easy-to-understand pricing. You may even consider eliminating subscription or yearly fees if it makes sense within your business structure.

Pro tip: Your salespeople, and everyone else involved with bringing in business, should focus on communicating the value of your product and service to the customer. When customers have a good grasp on your product’s value, it minimizes potential frustration over price.

Process pain points

Trying to perform an action or task in an outdated, redundant, inefficient way results in process pain points. Antiquated internal processes are usually the culprits in these situations.

Examples of process pain points

A common process pain point that plagues businesses is using paper systems instead of electronic or computerized systems. No matter the scenario, there are almost always more productive, seamless ways to navigate a process using a paperless system. A small business may especially struggle with this process pain point.

Another example is the dreaded phone tree voicemail system many companies use. Languishing in "voicemail hell" wastes time, especially if the caller gets tossed from one department to another, to another. It makes our blood pressure rise just thinking about it.

Strategies for handling process pain points

Combating process pain points takes planning, but it isn't impossible. One way to prevent these pain points is to get a handle on "red tape" — like the paperwork required for new clients. Or, if you are still using an old school phone tree system, create an actionable plan for routing phone calls so nobody gets stuck on hold for 30 minutes. 

Managing process improvements is crucial in avoiding process pain points and maintaining a positive customer experience.

Pro tip: Leadership should place a top priority on their company's processes, thoughtfully define each part of them, write them down, and assign ownership for each phase.

How to find the root causes of customer dissatisfaction

While addressing pain points is a big part of a marketing strategy, sometimes the intel you’re working with can be inaccurate and outdated.

Companies can identify customer pain points by conducting qualitative market research. To do this, you can map your customer journey and define your buyer persona. In short, this is an exercise in getting to know the customer, and understanding what they want and need.

One of the easiest, most forthright ways to identify customer pain points is listening to what they tell you. Most customers are more than happy to communicate their displeasure to anyone who will listen.

Sending out surveys is a good way to get feedback. Ask customers to give you their opinions on specific aspects of your business to help you gain insight into what’s working well, and what isn’t.

Talk to customer-facing team members

Talking to your customer support team and asking them question is a great way to gain insight into your customer's pain points: 

  • What complaints do they hear most often? 
  • Which aspects of doing business seem to frustrate customers the most? 
  • What feature or product do you spend the most time answering questions about?
  • What feature or product do you get the most requests or suggestions for?

These answers are integral in defining and categorizing pain points. Your sales team is "in the trenches" and should share what they hear daily about their customers' and prospects' pain points. Make it a point to touch base with your team at least once a month to discuss customer feedback. When you stay on top of your customers’ needs with ongoing followup, you are better positioned to address their pain points with effective, actionable solutions.

Marketing is another department that can help identify pain points. They can offer insight into the perspectives that both current and prospective customers have of the company's service and brand.

Company leaders should set times to communicate with customer-facing team members about their feedback on pain points. This way, there are no surprises that crop up because pain points weren't addressed. In addition, you can be more proactive in nipping a new pain point when it first rears its head — which you wouldn’t be able to do without these conversations!

What types of insights can you collect while you talk to customer-facing team members?

Nobody in your company, no matter how long they study them, understands your customers more than the people who engage with them all the time. Team members who interact with customers frequently hear the comments they make and the things they complain about. This means that they have unique insights about what works and what falls short. Note the specific complaints, repeated requests, and common questions your customer support and sales teams tell you about.

Conduct qualitative research

Qualitative research is an important building block companies can use to understand customer pain points. Think of it this way: You may identify a commonly experienced pain point within your customer base. But what's just as important—or even more so—is identifying the root of the problem. You can explore things such as:

  • User experience improvements within an app
  • Language is unclear and not commonly used by your customers
  • Product tutorial videos go too fast or are too advanced
  • Monthly calls are more convenient than biweekly calls

For qualitative research to be successful, companies must ask the right questions. Take customer satisfaction surveys for example, they have a lot of quantitative questions (how long have you been using our product), versus a lot of qualitative ones, including:

  • Which alternatives did you consider before purchasing the product?
  • What points of friction have you encountered while using the product?
  • What’s your biggest roadblock when (insert something related to your product)?
  • What's working for you? Why?
  • What’s not working for you? Why not?

Implement an open door policy with live chat

Live chat allows customers to engage with customer service reps directly to explain their pain points—at a time that’s most convenient to them. This offers several advantages to both the customer and the company.

  • Support can address pain points in real-time. 
  • The company can be proactive about solutions when they hear about problems directly (which is especially advantageous if it's a new pain point). 
  • Live chat builds trust with the client. If they have a problem, they know they can go to live chat to get a solution. This user experience increases their confidence in your brand.

Everyday types of customer pain points and strategies to resolve them

There are several pain points businesses will encounter throughout their lifetime. Many times, your business will have to tackle multiple pain points at once.. This doesn't mean that your system is broken or that you're failing as a company. It just means that nothing is ever perfect (and that’s okay). As a small business grows, for example, their growing pains can cause customer pain points: less than stellar new hires, vendor obstacles, leadership challenges, emergency bugs pushed to production, etc.

Let's look at some common pain points and walk through ways to overcome them. 

Complicated buying process

We're all busy. Nobody enjoys confusing, vague, or lengthy purchasing processes. A report by Accenture Interactive finds that 48% of consumers have left a company's website to make a purchase somewhere else because the experience was poor. 

Unclear or crushingly slow buying processes cause many prospective customers to lose their motivation and abandon their purchase. One major example of this is a slow, long checkout process. Hence why Amazon’s 1-Click ordering set a new standard for businesses.

So, what can you do to address a complicated buying process?

  • Engage with the customer as effectively as possible throughout the process. This increases their likelihood to buy more, and be more loyal to your brand.
  • Keep your checkout or sign-up page as simple and easy to navigate as possible. Forcing customers to go through several steps just to buy your product is a major turn-off for most, and could lead to a spike in your cart abandonment rate.
  • Offer several ways to pay. Customers are more likely to complete their purchase if they can use their preferred form of payment.

An inconsistent customer experience

When your customers’ experience is different every time they interact with your brand, it causes confusion and frustration—two terms you don’t want associated with your brand.

How can you improve an inconsistent customer experience?

  • Set consistent standards across your entire support team. Ensure that every member of your support team is aligned by defining a set of guidelines. 
  • Communicate with your customer-facing team members. Let them know that providing a consistent customer experience is a top priority. You can touch base with a simple Slack post, or go a bit further by defining goals for the team.
  • Ask customers for feedback. Do this consistently, and ask about your company's performance as well as their expectations. Knowing what they expect from you helps you deliver a better experience.

Pro tip: Practice good omnichannel management to make sure you provide consistency across all of your customer support channels. This way, no matter how customers choose to interact with you, they receive the same level of service.

Slow support response time

If your customer support team is short-staffed, overwhelmed with customers, or unmotivated, your customers can get stuck waiting on a response. As a result, customers lose confidence in your company's ability to solve their problems. They may even get so annoyed that they start complaining about you publicly, or even decide to do business with one of your competitors instead.

Slow is a no-no. So, how do you fix it?

  • Add a live chat feature. Live chat gives customers more expectations about when they can expect to receive a response. You could connect it to your help center and push help articles and solutions their way instantaneously, removing the need for a support agent entirely.
  • Build an extensive help center tackling the most FAQs. 69% of customers prefer to try to troubleshoot their own problems before reaching out to a customer support team, and a solid help center can help them achieve this.
  • Build macros/canned responses so that support agents don't have to start messages from scratch every single time. Instead, they'll have the bones of a message and personalize from there.

Test and compare customer support software before you buy

Support team is unavailable

In today’s market, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. customer support hours might be okay for smaller businesses, especially in the B2B world. However, these limited hours are often not enough for major corporations and many B2C companies—especially if your company operates in multiple countries and across many time zones. While support demands will vary somewhat based on a company’s size and its number of customers, if a customer needs assistance, they usually want it immediately. Waiting until the support team comes in the next day isn't a viable option.

How can you alleviate this pain point?

  • Automate your customer support. Use chatbots to handle the most common types of customer interactions to decrease wait time.
  • Use a self-service portal. This can provide customers with a way to get the answers they need on their own.
  • Consider using a call center. Add a call center support team to handle customer support during the hours you don't have regular staff working.

Customer support is negative or rude

Dealing with customers can be stressful. In a lot of cases, you’re not dealing with customers on their best day (and that’s okay). However, that doesn't give your support team the right to treat customers with anything other than kindness, positivity, and respect. If they feel like your support team is being rude to them, few things will send customers running to your competition faster.

What can you do about Negative Nancies and Rude Richards?

  • Train and role play with your support team. This can help them develop and hone the communication skills they need to react with compassion and helpfulness, instead of negativity and rudeness.
  • Provide regular breaks. Make sure your team has frequent breaks and time to decompress, so they're in a healthy headspace when they're engaging with customers.

Inadequate knowledge or experience

If customers—or potential customers—are reaching out for help and the support representative can't answer their questions, they're going to lose trust in your company. Lacking knowledge and experience is a big pain point, especially at the beginning of the customer relationship (when they may not have any other experiences with your brand to compare it to).

How should companies handle support team members who don't have enough knowledge or experience?

  • Organize product training for your support team. When you set up this training, make sure it's comprehensive. Consider training for every product rollout.
  • Hire experienced customer support staff. Choose to bring on team members who have experience with your industry and products.
  • Create an internal "catalog." This should be a showcase of your products, complete with a description of their features and benefits. Give a copy to every support team member.
  • Build world-class onboarding experiences. Set your team up for success before day one.

Low-quality products and services

Having customers who believe your product or service is sub-par quality is a serious pain point. This reputation is damaging and can be far-reaching if they decide to complain about it on review sites or social media.

What are the best strategies for companies that are faced with low-quality products and services?

  • Understand the most common frustrations from customers. 
  • Develop internal processes to share that feedback with the product team
  • Build a process for following up with customers to show that their problem has been solved, and that their needs were heard.

A poor understanding of customer needs

If your company doesn't understand what your customers are trying to achieve and what they need to accomplish that goal, how can you effectively meet those needs? The answer is, you can't. According to Khoros, 83% of customers feel more loyal to brands that resolve their problems. Customers who feel misunderstood are not going to have a positive customer experience with your brand.

  • Manage customer expectations when things are busy. Give them timeframes early in the process of when they can expect solutions. Even if it's not as fast as they’d like, at least they aren't left waiting and wondering.
  • Ask thoughtful questions. Open-ended questions encourage customers to be forthcoming with what they need.
  • Prioritize communication. The support team should repeat the customer’s responses back to them. Communication can easily break down when tensions are high. By making sure they understand what is making the customer suffer, the customer support team can move forward with providing the best solution.
  • Use satisfaction surveys. Surveys can identify whether their needs were met, and if support needs to do anything else.

Discover the perfect customer support tool to alleviate customer pain points

Identifying and addressing customer pain points are key to creating strong customer relationships based on positive experiences and trust. When you put effort into understanding your customer's common pain points and where they originate, you maximize your chances of delivering the solution your customer needs. 

Knowing how to identify pain points helps you address and neutralize them as quickly and painlessly as possible, so you can keep your customers satisfied and happy to do business with you.

Having the right customer support tool is more critical than ever before. With TestBox, you can try out a number of customer support tools before you buy them. Our approach is unique—test and compare solutions side-by-side to see which one best fits your needs, then make an informed choice for your team. 

Ready to find the best customer support tools to squash your customer pain points? Dive into TestBox today!

Sam's Face
Pedals

Pedals is a beloved member of the TestBox team whose entire goal in life is to author amazingly helpful blog posts and to cameo on every piece of TestBox swag.

TestBox empowers you to have a self-serve, customer-led experience so you can buy new software and feel confident that you made the right choice. Currently focused on Customer Support, TestBox allows you to test out Zendesk, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Dixa, and other products side-by-side. It takes a matter of minutes to sign up and take these products for a test drive. Find out more at TestBox.com or follow on LinkedIn.