Understand Pain Points for more business success

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5 min read

Many businesses and organizations but also business units have the task to solve problems. Knowing the pain points of their clients can help all of them to excell both in the solution and its communication.

Content: 

  1. What is a pain point?
  2. How to use pain points
    1. Understand, where your stakeholder is coming from to align goals
    2. Solve internal and external problems
    3. Optimize communication to directly address your customers
    4. Use pain points for innovation
    5. Define requirement catalogs for new software, processes, etc.

Pain points are usually used and talked about when it comes to customers. However, in this article, I want to go beyond customer experiences. Understanding pain points as something that everyone has - every customer, every client, every employee, every partner, etc. - can optimize collaboration and communication and strengthen relationships.

What is a Pain Point?

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The word pain point is pretty descriptive but for the sake of clarity, it is understood as a key problem a person has with a specific situation or thing.

Most usually understand a pain point as a problem the customer/client has that a company/organization can solve. However, a pain point can also be something that the company/organization causes and that needs to be solved to elevate the overall experience of the customer/client.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, identifying pain points is not just important when it comes to customers and clients. To enable successful partnerships, employee retention, etc. identifying pain points is relevant for all stakeholders.

Examples:

  • A client might have problems reaching the right contact person for a service question
  • A customer thinks that the product/service is too expensive
  • An employee is scared to admit to a mistake in fear of punishment
  • A partner has trust issues after an argument
  • The board of a company might have the impression that it's not being involved in important decisions

As the examples show, pain points can be based on numerous reasons, including emotional ones. As with everything, these emotional pain points (fears, distrust, anger) are just as important as more pragmatic pain points (software bugs, complicated instructions, high prices).

How to use Pain Points

 

Understand, where your stakeholder is coming from to align goals

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Successful collaboration is based on an understanding of each other's goals. Most of these can be directly tied to pain points that need to be solved to achieve the goals.

Especially with different responsibilities within a project team, not every person will have the same pain points, even if they share the same goal. Identifying everyone's main challenges and trying to constructively address them can help to empower everyone to give their best.

Solve internal and external problems

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Identifying pain points also means to understand the specific problems stakeholders face and find appropriate solutions (or even soften the impact of the problems). This helps prevent the so-called "inside-out" problem when companies fail to see the actual problems their customers have because they only see the issue from their perspective.

Example:

A manufacturer of vacuum cleaners tries to make their devices smaller and more flexible therefore using more cable-free devices with a battery. However, their customers prefer a vacuum with cables or at least longer battery durability.

Optimize Communication to directly address your stakeholders

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Just like the vacuum manufacturer might develop their product in the wrong direction of they are not aware of their customers' pain points, they are also more likely to communicate the wrong features in their marketing and sales.

Pain points are incredibly important to know when it comes to offering solutions. You might have the perfect service or product but get no market share because you communicate it to the wrong target groups (or with the wrong messages).

Example:

McDonalds has proven over and over again that it listens to customer pain points and is willing to change its product line, messaging and strategy accordingly.
With a rise in healthy eating, McDonalds started offering more salads and chicken items to their menu and it included calorie counts.
It also started offering all-day breakfast options since many people complained about the limited availability.
And it even offers deliveries - something that seemed unheard of in the past - to meet customers' demand to eat their Happy Meals at home (Source: thestrategystory.com).

Use Pain Points for innovation

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Some of the most unique but also disruptive innovations in the history of humankind has grown out of specific needs and pain points.

Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, initially just wanted a solution that got rid of his cluttered desk.

Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter after she became frustrated with the complicated ways to make coffee that also didn't taste as well as it could have.

Arthur Fry only looked for a way to bookmark passages in the bible when he found the solution in reusable glue and paper which turned into the first post-its.

Sarah Breedlove - also known as Madam C.J. Walker - was the first female self-made millionaire in the US because she invented haircare products for Black women, after she realized that the common products contained ingredients that were actually bad for skin and hair.

Mary Van Brittan Brown invented different home security tools after she felt unsafe in her neighbourhood in the 1960s. These included cameras and even a microphone to talk to the person in front of the door.

Sources: ozy "Accidental Genius: 10 Surprising Inventions" / A Mighty Girl "Sisters in Innovation: 20 Women Inventors You Should Know" / History "8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier"

Define Requirement Catalogs for new Software, Processes, ETc.

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If you are looking for a new software, tool, product or service, you usually create a requirements catalog to create a short list and make an educated decision.

Knowing specific pain points of the key stakeholders who will either use or be otherwise involved in the new product or service can help you prioritize these requirements and make sure that the acceptance rate will be high.


DIGITALL offers you the right workshops, services, and know-how to identify your employees', partners', and customers' pain points, develop requirements catalogs or optimize your processes for better workflows, individualized experiences and fast problem solutions. Find out more.

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by Juliane Waack

Juliane Waack is Editor in Chief at DIGITALL and writes about the digital transformation, megatrends and why a healthy culture is essential for a successful business.

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