Turning customer pain points into opportunities
March 08, 2023
Have you ever felt frustrated with a website that didn’t make sense? Have you struggled to open packaging or bought a product, only to find you don’t know how to use it? Or perhaps you’ve signed up for something, only to be stung by a sneaky bill hidden away in the small print. These are known as pain points, and we’ve all experienced them in one way or another.
When a customer encounters a pain point, their emotions range from mild annoyance to rage — none of which is great if you’re a business owner. Upset customers mean bad reviews; if your customers aren’t enjoying interacting with your company or product, they’ll jump ship faster than you can say “refund” and encourage others to avoid your company.
So how can you avoid these dreaded pain points?
This article will explore the importance of identifying user pain points and discuss critical techniques to understand your users’ needs better, creating a more user-friendly experience. So, let’s get started!
Common pain points
You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Understanding the different pain points will allow you to identify these issues and hopefully address them.
There are four main frustration areas: financial, product, process, and support.
Financial pain points
Financial pain points arise from the cost of accessing a product or service, including high pricing, unexpected fees, or a lack of perceived value. No one likes buyer’s remorse; if your customers don’t believe they are getting a fair deal, they won’t return.
Real-world example: Cable TV
Cable companies are frequently criticized for their high prices and confusing fee structures. Customers often feel like they’re paying for channels they don’t watch or features they don’t need, leading to a rise in alternative streaming services offering flexible pricing and better value. By understanding these financial pain points, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been able to disrupt the traditional cable market and capture market share.
In the digital space, financial pain points are just as important. For example, a SaaS business may struggle to attract customers if its pricing model is too complex or if users feel they need more value for their investment. Companies can address this by adjusting their pricing structure, offering free trials or demos, or highlighting the unique importance of their product or service.
By identifying and addressing financial pain points, businesses can create a more attractive and competitive offering for their customers.
Product pain points
Product pain points refer to user frustrations arising from the product or service. These include poor quality, unreliability, lack of features or functionality, or an unintuitive interface.
Real-world example: Bendgate
Remember the notorious ‘bendgate’ issue that plagued Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014? Many users reported that their phones would bend or warp under everyday use, leading to broken screens and other issues. The problem received widespread media coverage and negative user feedback, causing a major headache for Apple (not to mention their customers).
To address the issue, Apple implemented a more robust manufacturing process for the iPhone 6S and subsequent models, improving the product’s durability. Problem solved — but not before costing Apple a fair bit in repair costs, refunds, and bad press.
Product pain points are common in the digital product space. For example, a website or app that’s difficult to navigate frustrates users and drives them away. To address this, businesses must conduct extensive user testing to fine-tune their site’s UX.
Process pain points
Process pain points refer to user frustrations arising from steps or procedures involved in using or accessing a product or service. This could include a slow checkout, a complicated registration process, or long wait times for customer service.
Real-world example: Mortgages
The traditional mortgage application process can be lengthy and complex, involving multiple forms, credit checks, and appraisals. This process is frustrating, especially if the customer is unfamiliar with mortgages or encounters unexpected hurdles.
To address this, many financial institutions are turning to digital solutions that streamline application processes, making navigating easier for users. This typically involves online applications, automated credit checks, and real-time updates — all of which make the process quicker, easier, and less stressful.
Process pain points are commonplace across all industries. For example, a lengthy checkout process or a complicated registration form for an eCommerce site could lead to abandoned purchases, or a furniture store might have a reputation for prolonged delivery times, leading people to avoid it.
Businesses need to gather feedback from customers to address these concerns. With this data, they can identify and fix the problems causing frustration. This might involve simplifying the process, reducing the number of steps, or providing clear instructions.
Support pain points
Support pain points are frustrations caused by a business’s level of assistance or support, including slow response times, unhelpful support staff, or limited availability of support channels.
Real-world example: Internet service providers
Users often encounter long wait times when trying to reach customer service and may find that the staff isn’t prepared to solve their problems or provide helpful information.
Many service providers have offered online support channels like chatbots or forums to address this pain point. These tools allow users to quickly find answers to their questions without waiting on hold or navigating a phone tree.
Businesses may need to invest in support training, hire additional support staff, or streamline their support processes to provide faster, more efficient assistance to address support pain points. Therefore, users who feel supported and valued are more likely to remain loyal to a business and may even become advocates for the brand — so it pays to give it due attention.
Why identifying user pain points is essential
By understanding and addressing user pain points, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, reduce support costs, and increase revenue.
When users encounter a product or service that is easy to use and meets their needs, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend the product to others. Conversely, when users encounter pain points, they are more likely to experience cognitive overload, abandon the product, leave negative reviews, and share their bad experiences with others.
As well as the direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, user pain points add indirect costs for businesses. For example, if users struggle to complete a task on a website or app, they might call customer support for assistance. The result is increased support costs and reduced efficiency.
Pain points vs. usability issues: what’s the difference?
Pain points refer to the specific problems or challenges users encounter while trying to achieve their goals or complete a task. These are often subjective and can vary from user to user.
Usability issues, on the other hand, are objective problems or difficulties that prevent users from effectively utilizing a product or service. Poor design, confusing interfaces, or lack of clear instructions cause usability issues.
Pain points and usability issues impact the user experience. Still, they differ because pain points are user-specific and may not affect all users, while usability issues affect all users. Or in other words — every usability issue will be a pain point, but not every pain point will be a usability issue. To create a successful user experience, you’ll need to identify pain points and usability issues and address them in the product design process.
Optimizing processes to address pain points
By understanding and addressing problems, designers and business owners can create products and services with a positive user experience. Here’s how:
1. Conduct user research
The more you know about your customers and how they interact with your product or service, the better. Collect data via surveys, interviews, usability testing, A/B tests, analytics, and social media. User research aims to understand behaviors, needs, and frustrations.
2. Analyze user data
Once user research is complete, it’s time to analyze the collected data. Observing common themes and patterns will identify pain points and prioritize the primary issues impacting users.
3. Create user personas
User personas are fictional representations of typical users that help product designers understand the needs and motivations of different user groups.
This can be shared with stakeholders to ensure that everyone involved in the design process understands the target user clearly.
4. Map user journeys
A user journey is a path a user takes to complete a task. Plotting the A-Z of your user journey via a customer journey map can help you identify pain points that occur along the way. It also allows designers to understand how different pain points are interconnected.
5. Prioritize pain points
Not all pain points are equal. Some pain points may be minor inconveniences, while others may be critical issues preventing users from completing tasks. It’s essential to prioritize these based on their impact on the user experience and how many users the issue affects.
6. Address pain points
Your fix could encompass design changes, user interface improvements, training for the team, or providing additional support and resources to users. Here are some popular approaches you might want to consider:
- Redesign user interface: This could involve simplifying the interface, making buttons and controls more prominent, or providing visual cues to guide the user. Be sure to run A/B tests to get feedback on your changes.
- Provide additional support: If users struggle with a particular task, providing other support resources such as tutorials, FAQs, or improved customer service can help address the pain point. These resources should be easy to access.
- Improve the product or service: If a pain point is caused by a fundamental flaw in the product or service, addressing the root cause of the issue can help improve the user experience. This could involve adding new features, enhancing the quality of the product, or streamlining the user flow. Try running a root cause analysis to get to the bottom of your issue if it’s not immediately apparent.
- Iterate and test: It’s important to test the changes with users to ensure they are effective. This could involve conducting user testing, gathering feedback through surveys or interviews, or monitoring user behavior through analytics.
- Communicate with stakeholders: To have a happy set of stakeholders, transparency is vital. Provide regular updates on progress, share user feedback, or collaborate on design solutions.
And remember, this isn’t a one-and-done job. Pain points can pop up anytime, so keep gathering feedback and listening to users to learn more about making your service the best it can be.
By understanding users’ needs, motivations, and behaviors, product designers and business owners can create experiences that are intuitive, user-friendly, and enjoyable.
Diagramming software is integral to this process, allowing designers to visualize complex processes and information clearly and concisely. With Cacoo, you can create user personas, iterate on diagrams, and collaborate in real-time, ensuring everyone involved clearly understands the user experience.
With the right tools and a collaborative mindset, you’ll be well-positioned to eliminate pain points and drive business success.