Customer Pain Points

Have you identified customer ‘pain-points’ for your products and services?
A. We never considered customer ‘pain-points’.
B. We know what they are – we don’t need to research or verify them.
C. We have informally researched key customer ‘pain-points’.
D. We have formally researched key customer ‘pain-points’ for our main products and services in our main targeted segments.
E. We have formally researched key customer ‘pain-points’ for all products and services in all targeted segments, and we use these to inform product and service decisions.
[A=0, B-1, C=2, D=3 & E=4]


Why is this question important?

How do you identify what customers will buy before the products or services even exist? People spend money on two things; to fight pain and to pursue pleasure. It’s likely that the worse the pain or the problem, the more chance you have of selling a solution. The better the solution you offer, the quicker the customer will pay. Generally there is more staying power in ‘pain-solving businesses’ than there is in ‘pleasure businesses’.

So, look for pain. Look for things or situations that people find uncomfortable, annoying or frustrating. Focus on a ‘cure’ and let this help you as a guide to develop a business that will ‘make the pain go away’. You should also focus on trying to assess when it is that people feel the pain most. It’s easier to sell a solution to a current, severe pain than to solve something less intense.


When testing whether or not your business is addressing a real customer pain, answer the following:

  • What pain does your company solve?
  • Why should people care?
  • Can you do this in a few words?
  • Can you persuade people to purchase your product using an elevator pitch?

Many customer needs are for things the customers themselves don’t fully understand.

  • Why buy a BMW instead of a Toyota?
  • Why buy an iPod over a less expensive MP3 player?

Usually the answers to the questions have less to do with the features than with the image, feelings and intangibles.

Find new customer pain.

When apple first launched the iPod it was during the time of the illegal music downloading site Napster. Apple identified a new need, customers wanted to be able to download music cheap and legally. This led to iTunes, which has grown into a massive success for Apple.

When Apple designed the iPod it was usable only with headphones, users soon grew frustrated that they had no way of playing their thousands of songs out loud. This led to many other companies developing docking stations and speakers for the iPod.

The Importance of Identifying Customer Pain Points

To put it very simply, pain points are ‘cries for help.’

Collecting a list of pain points helps you understand what your prospects truly desire.  Referring to these same pain points in your promotion and advertising and in your one-to-one meetings with customers and prospective customers help them better relate to your offerings. It almost instantly builds rapport which leads to a higher trust factor.

Winners don’t always have the best product, the biggest name, or the deepest pocket, or even the most loyal customers. Many times the winner does the best job in understanding and meaningfully addressing customers’ pain points.

In sales and marketing circles you will hear a lot of advice about finding a prospective customer’s ‘pain point.’   A pain point is the when and the why, the reason customers choose you –  the point at which they realize you offer the solution to their need – their “pain”.

The choice of the words “pain point” is intentional: only something that is severe enough to be painful to your customer will cause them to act to relieve the pain.  This pain doesn’t necessarily have to be in a negative sense; the pain can easily be that of the frustration of wanting a product or service to do even more than it does right now.

If you’ve established good communications with your customers, they’ll tell you their pain points.

Define the ‘Pain-Point’

It’s important to define the pain point that drives your business. Sometimes this can be obvious.  A car supplies transportation, solving the pain of getting from A to B.

However some pain points can be less obvious. Does anybody really need an extremely expensive car that carries only two people and goes three times faster than the law allows? No, but some people want that, and businesses that supply it do very well.

Take restaurants for example, some solve the problem of getting food cheaply and fast. Others provide a service for people to go out and celebrate an occasion with all the trappings.

Out of the two which would you most likely find at an airport or train station? Not all restaurants have the same mission. Does the high-end restaurant solve a problem as much as it fills a need and supplies a want?

To identify customer ‘pain-points’:

  • In-depth interviews with your sales and especially support / service personnel.
  • Requests from your most important customers.
  • One-on-one customer interviews.  These can range from informal conversations through to more structured interviews.
  • Customer focus groups.  This is a formal market research method in which your customers participate in a group discussion with other customers.  The discussion questions are generally moderated by an independent facilitator.
  • Customer user group meetings.
  • Review of customer support calls or warranty claims to identify systemic problems.
  • Assessment of competitor offerings.
  • Suggestions from other staff in your company.

There are four questions you should seek to answer when identifying ‘pain-points’:

  1. What is the true source of pain?
  2. Who sees the most value in having that pain removed?
  3. Who will ultimately pay for a solution?
  4. Is there a substantive market that will benefit from your solution?

Define the pain point that drives your business. What customer problem, need, or want does your business address?  This is a core concept you’ll need to establish within your mission statement. Who is better off because your business exists, and why are they better off?