Every day consumers interact with companies to address pain points they’re experiencing, and companies are tasked in turn with effectively communicating the ways their solutions address customer needs (and do it better than competitors).
Interestingly, both companies and consumers stay very focused on actual offerings (products and services) without giving as much thought to the customer experience — at least until it becomes a problem. That’s a big issue for companies who want to convert sales and, more importantly, retain customers they already have.
Consider these stats:
- 90% of consumers consider customer service a deciding factor when making a purchase.
- 58% of customers will switch companies after experiencing poor customer service. Conversely, 89% of customers will make another purchase if customer service is good.
- 63% of consumers (and 76% of B2B buyers) expect that companies will know and address their unique needs.
Even if you have the best products on the planet, failing to provide high-quality customer service can put your company at risk of losing customers and sales.
- Pain points are any problems or inconveniences your customer encounters on the customer journey.
- It’s impossible to address customer pain points without knowing what they are, and there are best-practice steps you can take to identify yours.
- Pain points encountered during customer support interactions can be particularly harmful to business. The majority of consumers say they will not make a purchase or recommend companies after a bad customer service experience.
- Some common customer support pain points are unhelpful agents, long hold times, hard-to-find information, and inconvenient communication channels.
What are customer pain points?
A customer pain point is any problem your customer encounters during the customer journey — in other words, inconveniences they experience at any point when interacting with your company.
Pain points vary by industry and even by individual customer, but one of the most common buckets that pain points fall into is customer support. The world is moving a mile a minute, everything is digital, and customers expect immediate, personalized service — and feel dissatisfied when it doesn’t happen.
If this sounds like a big task for companies, it is. But it’s not optional for companies who want to succeed. And the good news is that putting effort behind providing high-quality customer service makes your current customers more likely to make repeat purchases, increases referrals, and makes prospective customers more likely to convert.
Identifying Customer Pain Points
Before you can address customer pain points, you have to know what they are. Fortunately, there are already some established best practices.
- Study your customer journey
Look at how your customers interact with your company at various points in the buying journey (including post-purchase). You will be better able to proactively identify potential issues they may encounter.
- Know the most common pain points in your industry
Research your industry to better understand the most common issues customers are experiencing. Talk to your peers and competitors when you can. Get to know if their experiences are similar and how they handle them.
- Track frequent questions and themes
Tracking themes and questions can alert you to potential gaps in the content and resources you’re providing on your website. This also applies to other resources your customer might utilize before contacting customer support. Once you know the gaps, you can take steps to make the right information more prominent and accessible.
- Talk to your customer support team
No one knows your customers better than the people who interact with them every day. Not taking their feedback into account is a huge miss — they know what customers are saying. They’re also the first-hand experiencers of your customer support processes and systems. Talking to your customer support team can help you better understand customer issues but it can also help you improve your company’s strategies for addressing them.
Avoiding Common Customer Support Pain Points
Unhelpful Support Agents
Customer support agents need to be knowledgeable about your company’s products, services, and processes. They also need to be friendly with customers (even difficult customers) and be willing to take extra steps to resolve customer issues.
This seems obvious, but consumers still report issues with customer service agents as one of the most common problems they experience when seeking customer support.
Companies can take some proactive steps to avoid this pain point:
- Train customer service agents and be clear about expectations for tone, messaging, and processes when interacting with customers.
- Provide resources (like product guides) so agents have quick access to find answers they need.
- Identify the most common customer issues and questions you receive, and spend extra time ensuring your support team knows how to address them.
- Create an environment where agents feel comfortable being honest when they don’t know an answer and know the right steps to take to find one.
Long Hold Times
Customers don’t like to be put on hold. Research shows that even being on hold for 1 minute can cause 60% of customers to hang up. While hold times are not totally avoidable, there are strategies you can employ to make it easier for your customers to find the answers they need. This in turn lessens the number of direct calls and inquiries you’ll receive.
- Implement a callback system that allows customers to leave their number and receive a call back when an agent becomes available.
- Create a detailed, accessible knowledge base that customers can access to find answers to their questions.
Inconvenient Communication Channels
Today, having multiple options for finding customer support isn’t a nice-to-have — it’s expected. Customers want to be able to decide how they’ll contact a support team depending on the type and complexity of their issue, level of convenience, and personal preference.
It’s not uncommon for companies to have several channels like phone, email, chatbot, and SMS all in place for customers who need to contact them. Omnichannel customer support helps customers funnel their inquiries through the channel that makes the most sense. For example, a customer may use a chatbot for a simple question or a phone call to an agent for a more complex one.
The image below from Nuance demonstrates just how non-linear customer interactions are, and how important it is for companies to have multiple channels open for addressing different customer needs and preferences.
Customers are willing to do lots of research on their own before deciding to make a purchase or contact customer support. They also expect the information to be available and clear when they look for it.
Having a website that is unnavigable or does not have the right information can really hurt. 57% of consumers reported they would not recommend a company with a poor website, and 38% said just an unattractive layout is enough to make them disengage.
As trite as that may seem, websites are often the digital equivalent of your company’s first impression. Everything from appearance to content to holistic experience really matters.
How to avoid this pain point:
- Keep user experience in mind when building your website.
It’s not enough to put information on your website. It’s essential that companies consider how exactly your customer is interacting with your content and the quality of experience your site provides.
- Work with professionals to optimize functionality.
Consumers are quickly turned off by confusing, slow, or outdated websites. Issues like broken links and expired pages can send a prospective customer immediately on their way, and leave a current customer feeling frustrated.
Embrace the Process
Identifying and addressing pain points can seem like an arduous process at first glance, but with a genuine strategy for doing it, you’ll gain insight into your customer and your company that will enhance other parts of your business, too.