#12 Pain Points – Find The Obstacles in Your Customer’s Journey
December 2, 2020
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In this week’s episode, we are going to talk about how you can find the obstacles in your customer’s journey. As your customer progresses from unaware of a problem your product or service can solve to buying and becoming an evangelist, they will, like the hero of any other story, encounter challenges.

You can imagine yourself in the customer’s position and try to predict their pain points. Collecting information from prospective and actual customers can be much more revealing. When you take the time to understand all your customers’ pain points in a comprehensive way, you can take steps to remove that pain and make their journey more enjoyable. 


Removing Roadblocks in the Customer Journey – a Series of Jobs 

We can think of the customer journey as a series of tasks to accomplish. For instance, first, the customer must realize that they have a problem or need that your product can solve. Later they will want to learn more about your product and then perhaps they will buy it. The journey is not over yet. We can hope for an epilogue that includes more purchases and increasing brand loyalty. The best ending to the customer journey is an open-ended result where they become an evangelist and enthusiastically lead others to your brand. If there are fewer obstacles in their path and pain points along the way, more customers will arrive at this best of all possible outcomes. So let’s talk about how we can reduce disappointment, annoyance, frustration, apprehension and pain to a minimum. 


The Big Picture: There are Potential Annoyances Throughout the Customer Journey

At every step of the customer journey and at every touchpoint, you run the risk of frustrating your customers in easily avoidable ways if you don’t examine each step carefully. For instance, in your first step, when you are making the customer aware of their problem, your message might offend someone if their problem is an embarrassing one that they have not even admitted to themselves. Perhaps humor could take the sting out of an advertisement for a bad breath cure.

Imagine a customer who has arrived at the final step and want to act as an evangelist for your brand. They probably would like easily shareable resources to give to their friends. They might also want a discount to pass along, for the social benefits, or some form of recognition as a brand ambassador – just to feel appreciated. If these needs exist and you fail to meet them, you are leaving an obstacle in the path and causing your customer easily avoidable pain. So look at every step carefully, predict the pain, and remove it. 


Types of Pain

By thinking about categories of obstacles in the customer journey, different types of pain points, we sharpen our perception of potential pitfalls. Broadly speaking, you can think of three types – direct obstacles, undesired outcomes of features, and risk of undesired outcomes. For instance, an obstacle could be that the information or purchase section of your website is not easy to navigate. An obstacle could also be that the information in a Facebook or Instagram Ad is accompanied by text or images that do not appeal to the target audience and catch their attention. The price is too high or the delivery lead time is too long or the purchase options too complex are also examples of obstacles you might be able to remove or at least address in some way. For these problems, you could add a justification of the higher price on the basis of comparison to competitors, or a chat feature to get live sales help selecting options. 

Another type of pain comes in the product itself. There may be some undesired features, or the product might lack features that your customer is looking for. The things customers are looking for can be functional, like the right number of buckles on a ski boot, or emotional like a feeling of elation that comes from associating the boot with a famous endorser and believing you will ski like a champion, or social, from having the boot everyone thinks is cool. If your product or service does not deliver all the things your customers want, or it delivers things they do not want, that is a pain point. 

The third type of pain comes from risk of a hypothetical bad outcome of some sort. Any uncertainty about any type of desired outcome is a risk. For instance, online ski boot buyers will be concerned about the risk of a bad fit. You can remove some of this pain by offering a return policy. That could be a difficult process, so you can promise to make it easy with a resealable box and an included pickup label for no-cost shipping to exchange for a different size. 


Don’t Miss Opportunities to Learn from Customers

Who likes complaints? They are often unwelcome. But complaints are a great opportunity to learn what the biggest pain points are for your customers. So embrace this opportunity. Seek feedback in your sales communication and make it easy for customers. Create a pain free complaint process. Record as much specific information as possible to make the experience concrete so your team has a real understanding of the problem. If possible, follow up with the customer proposing a policy to address the problem they have and ask if they feel like that would address their concerns. 

You may also be able to survey your customers. Be careful not to annoy them. Don’t demand answers to questions unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider offering them something in response for participating in a survey. You can ask questions to find out whether time or money is a bigger concern, how much is too much, what are their needs that your product does not quite meet, is there something about your product they do not understand, was there something about your website that was lacking or difficult, etc. Armed with a deeper understanding of obstacles in the path of the customer’s journey and the pain points they want to avoid, you can adjust your entire process to serve your customers better. 


These digital marketing tips only work if you use them

We hope you find this insight on digital marketing excellence useful. This knowledge can improve your results, but you have to put it into action. So find a way to apply it and test it. Take a baseline measurement and compare your new improved outcome. Join the Viral Octopus collective and share and discuss your results with others who are striving for excellence. And come back and join us next week for more powerful new marketing tips and tricks. Don’t get left behind: Mind The Gap.