No one wants to give their customers a bad experience. Yet, when it comes to improving the customer experience, many marketers don’t know where to begin. They often get lost in the weeds of technology or promotional offers. Though these tactics are an important part of a customer experience strategy, you really need to start from the beginning to be successful.
Understanding the customer journey and the problems that bring them to your doorstep is the first step to creating long-term customer relationships. Entering into the world of customer pain points can help you better position your company as a potential solution. This will give you a roadmap to creating an excellent customer experience.
So before we get into how to identify customer pain points, we’ll start with the basics.
What are Customer Pain Points?
Let’s skip the marketing jargon. Put simply, customer pain points are problems. It’s the specific problem that prospects or customers of your business are experiencing. These can range from small inconveniences to very complex challenges. The main thing to keep in mind is that these “problems” can also be thought of as opportunities. Customer pain points tell you exactly what your customers’ or prospects’ needs are.
Types of Pain Points
Understanding the different types of paint points can help as you identify the problems your own prospects or customers are dealing with. It’s important to note these pain points go both ways. They could be issues prospects are currently dealing with from their current solutions provider, or they could be issues that your customers are dealing with within your own products or services.
- Financial Pain Points: Are prospects coming to you looking for a cheaper solution? Do they often cite spending too much money on their current provider or solution and are looking for ways to reduce their spending? Or are you noticing any current customer churn related to price?
- Productivity Pain Points - Are your prospects spending too much valuable time using their current provider or solution? Or do current customers express frustration at the efficiency of your own solution or service?
- Process Pain Points - Do you often hear prospects citing the need for a solution that improves their own internal processes, such as better management of their team, or assigning leads to a sales rep? Or are current customers citing frustrations with your own internal processes?
- Support Pain Points - Do prospects cite a lack of support as the need for a change in a solutions provider? Or are customers not receiving the support they need at critical stages of the buyer’s journey, and therefore seeking alternative solutions?
Understanding these different categories can help as you start to think about how to position your own company and solutions to prospects dealing with some of these issues. It can also give you valuable insight into how to meet the needs of these prospects as they continue through the buyer’s journey. If it’s a current customer you’re dealing with, identifying what areas they are experiencing pain in will help determine efficient solutions that decrease churn.
How to Identify Your Customer Pain Points
Categorizing pain points by type is just a starting point. Many times prospects and/or customer pain points are layered and complex. Taking a more holistic approach will help you better identify the problems facing your customers. Here are 6 steps to help you do just that.
1. Map Out the Entire Customer Journey
Start by mapping out the entire customer journey - from the very first touchpoint to post-purchase. Having a clear understanding of the steps they take both leading up to their purchase and following the sale will give you a more holistic view of who this buyer is, what problems they face, and how you can pivot your strategy to solve these problems. Here are some tips to guide you as you create your customer journey map:
- Make a comprehensive list of all the touchpoints you have with your customers throughout the buyer’s journey.
- Consider any differences in the journey between buyer personas.
- Talk to your internal team, including sales and customer service departments to access any frequently asked questions or common issues they constantly see pop up. This will pinpoint any obstacles present within your customer journey.
If you’re struggling with how to begin your customer journey map, HubSpot offers 7 Free Customer Journey Map templates to make the process simple and easy.
2. Survey Your Current Customer Base
Once you have a solid understanding of the buyer’s journey, it’s time to start talking with some of your current customers. One of the best ways to identify your customer’s problems is by listening to them. Seeing issues through the customer’s eyes will give you a deeper perspective that reveals ways to solve pain points more effectively.
One of the best ways to get this information is through what’s called qualitative research. It requires getting your customers to open up to you through real conversations in the form of phone interviews, face-to-face interviews or focus groups. When conducting qualitative research keep the following in mind:
- Never Assume - This can be tricky when you’ve already identified your main buyer personas. But bringing biases and preconceived notions to these types of conversations can hinder your ability to really listen to what’s troubling your customers.
- Carefully Listen - Never dismiss any form of feedback or communication from your customers. This includes social media, reviews, and any other online feedback you might get. Cast a wide net with your quantitative research, and you’ll be more likely to find the pain points that your customers are really struggling with.
- Ask the Right Questions - When you talk with your customers, it’s important to keep things open. Avoid yes or no questions. Prompt your customers to share their thoughts, motivations, and attitudes in their own words.
3. Gather Insights from Live Chat
If you have a live chat tool on your website, this is an excellent way to discover customer pain points. Not only does live chat offer a way to establish trust and confidence with customers, but it’s also a great tool to help collect real-time customer feedback.
A live chat tool can help you walk with your customers through each stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s a way to almost “hold their hand” through different transactions or processes and will help keep you in the know of any friction throughout their experience. And by sticking with them through each step of the journey, you’ll also collect some valuable information about the pain points they experience in each lifecycle stage as a prospect or customer.
4. Talk to Your Sales & Customer Service Teams
Who knows your customers best than those that deal with them every day? Your customer service and sales teams are at the frontline of your business, battling customer pain points. Tap into the valuable insights they have by asking the following questions:
- What are some of the most common questions you repeatedly hear from customers?
- What is the most common objection from prospects?
- What types of solutions are prospects or customers typically looking for?
- What would you say your customer pain points are?
These questions will also prompt your sales and customer service teams to ask the right questions of your buyers. Every member of your team will be forced to dig a little deeper into the needs and wants of your target personas, and as a result, gain a better understanding of the pain points standing in their way.
5. Read Competitor Reviews
Once you’ve gotten this far, you probably have a pretty good understanding of what’s bothering your prospects and customers and prompting them to reach out to your own business as a solution. Or you’ve gained a better understanding of how to reduce your own customer churn. Now, it’s time to take things one step further.
Tapping into your competitors and their customer pain points will give you valuable insight into why customers might be attracted to your services and how you can leverage your solutions in a meaningful way to these prospects. Researching testimonials and online reviews from your competitors will reveal some powerful information. By understanding where those businesses are letting customers down, you’ll know exactly how to cater to those prospects and customers while providing a direct solution to these pain points.
6. Glean Insights from Intent Signals
Finally, one last way to identify any pain points you might have missed is to take cues from user intent. Keep in mind that typically the first thing a buyer will do when trying to solve their pain point is to do some research on their own. They might visit your site, read specific blog posts, and download a guide. These digital footprints reveal valuable information about what a specific prospect might be looking for and the problem they are trying to solve.
10 Questions to Help Identify Customer Pain Points
We’ve talked a lot about the value of interviewing your customers to help identify customer pain points. But sometimes, it can be hard to come up with the right questions. Here’s a list of 10 open-ended questions that will help you divulge valuable information from your customers. Use these as a guide to build off of as you form your own survey questions.
- What is the biggest challenge your team or company is currently facing?
- What’s your deadline to solve this problem?
- What’s your plan to tackle this challenge?
- Who on your team is involved in solving this issue?
- What takes up the most time in your day?
- How would a solution for this issue impact your team?
- How much time could you save if you didn’t have to worry about this issue?
- What does your boss care about the most? (Save this question only for when you aren’t yet talking to the key decision-maker)
- Why are you losing deals?
- Why are customers churning?
Solve Customer Paint Points and Drive Growth
It can be hard to market to the B2B buyer. Ruled by data, efficiency, and cost savings, these types of customers seek answers to some pretty specific problems. Understanding their pain points can help you create marketing messages that speak to the heart of a B2B buyer.
It’s important to study current customers too. One of the most significant barriers to growth is customer churn. By mapping out customer journeys and identifying any frustrations within, you’ll begin to identify clear ways to deliver a smoother experience, improve relationships, and leverage growth.