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How to find and fix customer pain points

Last updated

28 August 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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Your ultimate goal is to create a seamless and positive customer experience. However, your customers may sometimes encounter frustrating roadblocks or pain points during their interactions with your business. 

These challenges may range from minor inconveniences to significant obstacles hindering the ability to interact positively with your team or product. If unaddressed, these pain points can reduce revenue and hurt your reputation.

In fact, according to an Emplifi survey of 2,000 US and UK-based consumers, 86% of respondents would abandon a brand they were previously loyal to after two or three lousy service experiences. 63% would break up with a brand because of a single bad experience. (and 49% had done precisely that in the last year). These findings underscore how many competitor options exist—too many to settle for subpar service.

In contrast, a recent Forbes survey asked 1,000 US consumers: Would you pay more if you knew you would receive great customer service?” 58% said yes.

While every industry is slightly different (and price undoubtedly matters to most consumers), these responses show that most people are willing to pay for being well-cared for.

What are customer pain points?

Customer pain points are issues or concerns that customers experience when trying to purchase a product or use a service. These challenges can come in many forms and vary depending on the industry, product or service, and individual needs.

Pain points can range from minor inconveniences—like confusing website navigation or slow response times—to major issues preventing customers from completing a purchase or acquiring a service—such as poor quality or lack of customer service.

Recognizing and resolving these pain points is crucial for ensuring a favorable customer experience and customer loyalty.

Types of customer pain points:

You can segment customer pain points based on the challenges or issues that customers are experiencing. Let's look at the four main types of customer pain points.

1. Productivity pain points

If a product fails to meet expectations or inconveniently needs repair or replacement too quickly, the customer will inevitably experience frustration, disappointment, and sometimes lost productivity.

These customer pain points may be rooted in issues with 

  • Quality 

  • Functionality

  • Design

  • Usability

  • Performance

  • Durability

  • Reliability

  • Assembly

2. Support pain points

Inadequate customer support is a common pain point. Customers may experience dissatisfaction or anger if they encounter issues with a product or service and cannot get the support they need to resolve the matter. 

Common support pain points often include 

  • Long wait times 

  • Unhelpful or unresponsive customer service representatives 

  • Self-service options that are tough or impossible to navigate

3. Financial pain points

You might have the perfect product or service offering for your customers’ needs, yet they go elsewhere because the cost of doing business with your company is too high (or lacks transparency).

Financial pain points might appear as:

  • Hidden fees or complex fee structures

  • Limited payment options

  • Jargon-filled terms and conditions

  • Delayed transactions

  • Taking a long time to resolve billing disputes

  • Repair or replacement costs associated with a short product lifespan 

4. Process pain points

Process pain points refer to customer difficulties with a company's operational procedures or systems. 

These issues can arise at any point during the customer journey, ranging from the first interaction to the support received after a purchase. 

When customers encounter intricate or time-consuming processes that prevent them from accomplishing their intended tasks, they will likely experience negative emotions that you don’t want them to associate with your brand—such as anger, disappointment, or annoyance.

Process pain points often include:

  • Convoluted or drawn-out checkout procedures

  • Overly complicated onboarding processes

  • Excessively detailed account setup procedures

How do you ask customers about their pain points?

Businesses use various methods to ask customers about their pain points to gather valuable feedback and improve their products or services.

Here are some common approaches:

Surveys Creating online surveys using tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms allows businesses to collect structured feedback. They can ask specific questions about pain points customers might be facing and provide options for them to rate the severity of each issue.

Feedback forms Many companies have dedicated feedback forms on their websites or within their apps. These forms often include open-ended fields where customers can describe their pain points in their own words.

User interviews Conducting one-on-one interviews with customers allows you to delve deeper into pain points. Businesses can better understand the context and emotional aspects of customer challenges.

Focus groups Bringing together a group of customers for a discussion can reveal common pain points and allow participants to build upon each other's experiences.

Social media listening Monitoring social media platforms and online reviews can help identify recurring complaints and issues that customers share publicly.

Customer support interactions Analyzing interactions with customer support teams can highlight frequent concerns raised by customers.

Analytics and data analysis Tracking user behavior on websites or apps can reveal pain points indirectly. For example, if customers consistently drop off during checkout, it could indicate a pain point.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys These surveys include a question about how likely a customer is to recommend the business to others. Respondents who give a low score can provide insights into their pain points.

Online communities and forums Participating in or proactively observing discussions on online platforms related to the industry can help businesses identify customer pain points and challenges.

Customer advisory boards Inviting select customers to join an advisory board provides an ongoing channel for feedback and insights.

Prototype testing In the development phase, presenting prototypes or beta versions of products to customers can help identify pain points before the official launch.

A/B testing Businesses can compare different versions of their products or services to see which performs better and effectively addresses user pain points.

The key is to choose the methods that best align with the business's goals, resources, and target audience. Combining multiple approaches can provide a comprehensive understanding of customer pain points and lead to more effective solutions.

How to resolve customer pain points

Fixing pain points requires a customer-centric, communicative approach that identifies and addresses the underlying cause of dissatisfaction. The process might involve: 

  • Investing in customer research and feedback mechanisms

  • Prioritizing staff training and development to ensure representatives have the skills to address customer concerns effectively

  • Implementing changes to products, services, or processes based on customer feedback

  • Personalizing service offerings to match customer needs

Every customer has unique needs and preferences, and by understanding and catering to those requirements, companies can build authentic relationships and increase customer loyalty.

Finally, if a customer reaches out to your business for a solution, follow up in a 1:1 call or survey and confirm whether your customer support team has addressed their pain point, and if so, find out how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with the solution. 

Common examples of customer pain points

1. Late response from the support team

Slow responses from customer service representatives or support can lead to frustration, dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, loss of customers. For example, imagine a customer with an internet service issue who contacts their provider for help. The support team promises to resolve the issue, but it takes several days to find a solution. The customer doesn’t get any progress updates from when they first reported the problem. 

As a result, the customer is left without internet for an extended time and has yet to determine when the problem will be fixed, ultimately leading to uncertainty and dissatisfaction. Someone technically resolved the issue, but the late communication may lead the customer to switch to another internet service provider or share negative feedback about their experience with others, harming the brand's reputation.

2. Unreachable customer support

Inaccessible support can leave customers feeling abandoned when they most need assistance. Picture that a customer just purchased a new software product and encounters a technical problem while trying to use it. They contact the support team for help but cannot reach anyone.  The support team may be understaffed and overwhelmed with requests. Or they are only available during limited hours, and the customer is trying to contact them outside those hours. 

Regardless of the reason, the customer is waiting for a response, which can be a source of stress and anxiety. If the customer cannot resolve the issue independently, the problem may persist, potentially leading them to seek alternatives. As a result, your business may lose customers and receive negative reviews online or by word of mouth.

3. Unpredictable customer experience

Inconsistent experiences manifest when interacting with multiple personnel or departments of your company. It can also show up as discrepancies between in-person vs. online service. 

For instance, a customer who receives excellent in-person service but later has a negative experience with the support team may be unsure of the brand’s reliability. The same is true when customers visit multiple franchise locations and have vastly different experiences at each one.

4. Lack of professionalism from support representatives

Customers rightly expect to be treated respectfully and professionally when contacting help desks. Unprofessional or rude behavior tends to leave customers with the impression they are undervalued or dismissed. This type of disrespect jeopardizes the relationship and potentially damages your brand reputation. 

For example, suppose a customer calls a support line for assistance and reaches an unhelpful, scornful representative. In that case, they may feel that their issue is unimportant or not worth the company’s time, leading to a negative experience.

5. Inadequate knowledge and experience

When customers seek out a product or service, they assume the provider has the expertise and experience to provide accurate and helpful information. However, when the provider shows a lack of knowledge and experience, it can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, and a lack of confidence in the entire brand.

For instance, if a customer is seeking technical support for a product or service, but the support team lacks the necessary knowledge to provide practical guidance, it can lead to a dissatisfying and time-consuming experience for the customer. 

6. Inefficient buying process

A complex purchasing process can deter and frustrate potential customers. Buyers want to make easy, convenient purchases, and when the process is too detailed, it can be a significant barrier. 

For example, your customer interested in purchasing a product online finds the website difficult to navigate, and the checkout process is lengthy and intricate. They may get so frustrated that they give up on the purchase. 

7. Inferior quality products and services

When customers purchase a product or service, they expect it to meet their expectations and perform as advertised. Low-quality products and services can result in dissatisfaction and loss of loyalty.

For example, suppose a customer purchases a workout app advertised as quick and convenient, only to find it takes an incredibly long time to register, and none of the expected workouts are available. When they seek support, they get an unhelpful service person. This unpleasant and uncomfortable experience causes the customer to question the value of the service they have paid for and the marketing ethics of the brand. 

Tips for empowering your service and sales team

  • Leverage your customer-facing teams' insights Your customer service and sales teams play a pivotal role as the initial point of contact with customers, granting them unique insights into the challenges customers encounter. A strategic approach to harnessing their expertise involves conducting regular meetings or check-ins to collect feedback and glean valuable insights.

  • Problem-solve collaboratively During these sessions, you can delve into prevalent customer complaints and hurdles, fostering collaborative brainstorming for potential solutions.

  • Unveil pain points with the right tools Employing tools such as customer service tickets and call recordings can also prove invaluable for pinpointing pain points.

  • Analyze records Through careful analysis of these records, you can unearth recurrent themes or issues, enabling you to prioritize remedies based on their frequency and impact. 

  • Equip customer-facing teams with tools and training

An equally effective strategy involves giving your customer service and sales teams the tools and training to identify and resolve customer pain points proactively. 

  • Guidelines and empathy training Equip them with scripts or guidelines for addressing common concerns, alongside training in active listening and empathy skills.

  • Incentivizing problem solvers Lastly, consider incentivizing your teams to identify and tackle customer pain points. This initiative may encompass offering rewards or bonuses for resolving customer issues and acknowledging and celebrating team members who consistently exceed expectations in delivering exceptional customer service.

In the realm of customer-centric strategies, addressing pain points is essential. You can enhance satisfaction and build lasting loyalty by engaging with customers, employing the right tools, and tailoring solutions. These challenges are not mere obstacles but chances to drive meaningful change.

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