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What they are and how to identify and solve them

Navigating Customer Pain Points

Navigating Customer Pain Points

A Guide for Small Businesses

Understanding and addressing customer pain points is crucial for small businesses that aim to enhance their value proposition and improve customer satisfaction. Identifying these pain points—issues that frustrate or hinder your customers—allows businesses to tailor their offerings and services for better market fit. 

This article covers the four main types of customer pain points: Financial, Productivity, Process, and Support, providing actionable insights for small businesses to tackle these effectively.

Financial Pain Points

Imagine this: You find the perfect product or service for your needs, but when you reach the checkout, your heart sinks. The price tag is way higher than you anticipated. This sticker shock is a significant financial pain point for many customers who do not complete the transaction. 

Here’s why this pain stings:

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Marketing and advertising often focus on the benefits while neglecting to communicate the total cost clearly. Hidden shipping fees, subscriptions, or in-app purchases can turn an affordable product into a budget buster. How often have we abandoned the cart when booking a flight with Jetstar or Scoot Airlines? Or abandoned a cart when a business was not clear at the start about their additional add-on costs? We have all done this. 
  • Loss of Trust: Feeling misled about the actual cost can damage consumer trust in a brand. Hidden fees and surprise costs make customers feel like they’ve been tricked. It undermines the brand’s credibility and suggests they’re prioritising profit over customer satisfaction. Investing time in researching a product only to discover a hefty price tag at checkout is a major turn-off. Customers feel their time hasn’t been respected, and it is likely they will abandon the purchase altogether.


Solving Them:

  • Clear Communication: Display the total price upfront, including taxes, additional fees, and any subscription costs. Upfront pricing demonstrates honesty and respect, fostering a positive relationship with customers.
  • Tiered Options: Offer different pricing plans or product variations to cater to a range of budgets. Customers can choose the plan that best suits their needs and financial situation and allows customers to adjust their plan as their needs change over time. 
  • Transparent Sales Tactics: No one likes clickbaits. Avoid deceptive promotions, misleading discounts, or drip pricing tactics. Deceptive promotions that lure customers in with a low headline price but hide additional fees or restrictions damage trust.
  • Value Justification: If your price is premium, clearly communicate your product’s value proposition. Why is it worth the price? If your value proposition isn’t compelling enough, consumers may start comparing the product to alternatives. If they can find similar features at a lower price elsewhere, the justification falls flat.


Productivity Pain Points

In today’s fast-paced world, many customers struggle with a significant productivity pain point: feeling overwhelmed and time-poor. These pain points arise when customers feel their time is not being used efficiently. Your product or service might have roadblocks or inefficient processes that prevent customers from doing business with you.

Take McDonald’s as a prime example. It’s not the first go-to choice when it comes to healthy options, yet its convenience is unparalleled. McDonald’s is aware of this, and their focus is to ensure their meal service screams convenience. Customers simply drive up, order, and receive their meal in minutes. They focus on it so much that they drive friendly rivalry between the different outlets whereby the drive-thru speed of service is sent to the store managers daily. The fastest employees are incentivised with gift cards and recognition badges. 

Customers know that sit-down restaurants typically provide healthier options and a more pleasant dining experience than fast food. They also recognise that cooking at home ranks as the most budget-friendly choice and often the healthiest option.

However, customers decide based on their immediate needs. If they’re short on time and starving, fast food becomes the go-to despite the fact that it’s not the healthiest option. 

Understand how customers interact with you and how they use your product and service. Analyse the barriers that prevent them from converting. Do they find your website confusing and leave without purchasing? Is your tool too complicated to use? Is your shop layout confusing therefore your customers cannot find what they are looking for? Make their online and offline shopping experience with you effortless. 

Solving Them:

  • What is your customer support process? Can it be improved? 
  • Gather customers’ feedback. Ask them how you can make it easier for them.
  • Look at your website’s analytics. Which page are they exiting? Is that exit page confusing, therefore wasting their time? Why are they abandoning the cart? Ask for feedback on why and offer them a sweetener — e.g., $5 credit for next time if they provide feedback. 
  • Optimise your product or service for faster, more efficient outcomes.


Process Pain Points

Process pain points occur when customers find the journey of discovering, purchasing, or using a product complicated or frustrating. It can be complicated sales transactions, prolonged deployment times, or a disorganised help centre.

Internal issues, such as redundant tasks, manual data entry, communication breakdowns, delays, and resource allocation issues, can also negatively affect your bottom line. 

Consider the transformation of the airline industry. Gone are the times when passengers had to endure long queues at service counters like those of Virgin or Qantas to check in and register luggage, often waiting up to 90 minutes. The shift towards digital innovation has revolutionised this process. Airlines now provide dedicated mobile apps through which passengers can access flight details, check-in, and receive their boarding passes directly on their devices. Additionally, introducing self-service kiosks allows travellers to print their own boarding passes and luggage tags, complemented by automated baggage drop areas, streamlining the entire pre-flight experience. This results in shorter wait times and allows the passengers to check-in faster so they can get through the boarding gates to have a coffee or window shopping prior to catching their flight.

Solving Them:

  • Simplify the buying process with straightforward navigation and guidance. This could be on your e-commerce site and in-store. 
  • Critically analyse your internal processes. Are your internal processes affecting customers’ receiving your product or service quickly and effectively? Get your staff involved, as they deploy this day in and day out at your premises.
  • Ensure transparency and ease in the purchasing and onboarding phases.
  • Regularly review and refine customer interactions at each touchpoint.


Support Pain Points

One common support pain point many businesses face is long response times for customer inquiries. When customers reach out for help, whether through phone, email, or chat, they expect quick and effective responses. Delays can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction, potentially harming the business’s reputation and customer retention rates. 

Small businesses usually do very well when it comes to top-of-the-class support and service. However, what I do see small businesses struggle with is adding this support to their very busy schedules. I see small businesses picking up calls and answering emails and text messages at all hours of the day and night. You may enjoy this part of your business because it is lovely to connect with your customers and build relationships, but in reality, you can’t be everything to everyone. 

Think about how you can automate your support or be more proactive vs reactive with your customer support.

Take the case of a customer buying a new aquarium and fish for her five-year-old son. As the owner of an aquarium shop, you’re likely familiar with the typical questions and potential issues that new aquarium owners might encounter. To proactively assist them, consider providing a printed checklist along with a straightforward, step-by-step guide on how to set up and care for their new aquatic pet once they get home. This proactive approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also helps prevent common mistakes, making their experience with your business a positive memory.

Solving Them

  • Offer multiple support channels tailored to customer preferences.
  • Relook at your after-support process. Is it efficient and easy for the customer?
  • Invest in training for your support team to provide informed, empathetic service.
  • Leverage chatbots for instant, 24/7 support for more straightforward questions.


Wrapping Up

For small businesses, recognising and addressing these four types of customer pain points—Financial, Productivity, Process, and Support—is critical to building a loyal customer base and differentiating themselves in a competitive market. By employing a mix of direct feedback, market research, and customer behaviour analysis, businesses can pinpoint these issues and implement strategies to solve them, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Each pain point offers an opportunity for improvement and innovation. Addressing them not only solves immediate customer frustrations but also paves the way for sustainable business growth and success.

Ready to boost your business journey? Let’s catch up over a coffee – Esther