How to Find and Solve Customer Pain Points

Get down to the heart of the issue using these useful tactics, no sleuth skills required

Lauren Dowdle
July 21 2018

You don’t need to put on your detective hat or pull out your magnifying glass to solve the mystery of what’s bothering your customers. Instead, figuring out and addressing your customers’ pain points predominantly comes down to your data, emotional intelligence and ability to adjust your marketing techniques — because they aren’t just going to come out and tell you what’s wrong. Only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers will let you know they’re unhappy. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out those results are one-sided.

So, it’s up to your marketing team to uncover the issue. To crack the case, ask yourself these four questions to figure out what’s causing your customer pain points and see how you can successfully resolve them.

Where do they disengage?

Before you can begin fixing the issue at hand, you first need to figure out what it is and where it begins. Your CRM can be a great resource to get inside the minds of your customers and figure out where there’s a disconnect between them and your brand. Dive into your CRM to see where you’re losing your customers. Do they make a one-and-done purchase, disappear after reading a single blog post or stop interacting with you after a certain amount of time? Analyze the data from a group of customers to figure out the trend.

For example, are you seeing a decline in sales or engagement after customers hit the three-month mark? If so, figure out what else is changing and what could be the cause. Maybe you stop sending them discounts around that time or your content doesn’t progress with them through the buyer’s journey.

Once you figure out the potential dilemma, implement one change to see how they respond. If you try to adjust multiple components all at once, you won’t know which one actually fixed the problem.

What do they have to say about it?

Don’t just make an educated guess of what’s bothering your customer: Ask them. One of the easiest ways to do that is through a survey. You can send these proactively to your customer base to identify issues before they result in disengagement or churn, or you can target customers who have already shown signs of having a problem.

Questions to ask in your survey include:

  • What’s one thing we can improve (ex. customer service, pricing, turnaround time, customer benefits, product quality or “other”)?
  • Tell us about a problem you’ve had with [COMPANY] and if/how it was resolved.
  • What features/services do you wish we offered that we currently don’t?
  • How would you rate the customer experience we provide?
  • Do you plan to make another purchase? Why or why not?

Make the questions multiple choice when possible to save both you and the customer some time. You can include open-ended questions when you want a more detailed response — if they say they’ve had an issue with billing and you want to learn more about their experience — or include an “other” response option where they can type in their answer.

In addition to sending surveys, you can also get a sense of what customers have to say about your brand by reading online reviews or social media comments. Sites like ReviewTrackers, BirdEye and will collect your reviews from a variety of sites so you can view them all in one place, ensuring you don’t miss one. And remember: It’s not just about reading their reviews. You actually need to respond to each one, whether it’s positive or negative.

Have you asked for feedback from the frontline?

No one knows your customers better than the people who interact with them every day. Talk with your sales team, customer service, store employees and anyone who has a relationship with your customers. Ask them about the top customer complaints or hurdles they have when they engage, and you’re sure to see a theme with their answers.

Companies like Amazon don’t just rely on what the employees on the frontline have to say, though. They also get a glimpse into what’s it like to communicate with customers directly by attending a two-day call center training each year. That gives them a better insight into how to listen to customers, which is vital with fixing any issues they might have.

How can I solve the problem?

Each issue is unique, so there’s not one magical response that will fix them all. However, there are some best practices for how to deal with customer problems when they arise:

  • This could mean literally listening to their problem or paying attention to what the data is telling you. Use your emotional intelligence to go beyond what the problem is, and figure out why it’s an issue. The more you know, the better you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
  • Respond quickly. The sooner you address the issue, the better. That shows you’re on top of things, care about what’s bothering the customer and want to make it right. Don’t make things worse by making your response time another problem.
  • Admit you’re wrong. If your team messed up, tell the customer you’re sorry, and offer them something to make up for the error. Freebies and discounts go a long way.
  • Give them what they want. Once you know what’s wrong, take steps to fix that across the board so it doesn’t just help the affected customer, but also future ones.

One company that’s made problem-solving a big part of its marketing strategy in an untraditional way is Red Roof Inn. The hotel chain uses internal and external data to target airport passengers who are stranded due to the weather. They started creating personalized ads and communications, like “Stranded at LAX? Check out Red Roof Inn.” Their timely approach resulted in a 10-percent growth year over year.

Being able to identify the problem is only the start, albeit a good one. Knowing how to resolve it can be just as challenging but comes with some important benefits, like a lower churn rate, improved customer satisfaction and increased revenues. When you figure out how to do that, it’s case closed.


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