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    Finding Your Customers' Pain Points (and why it matters)

    Finding your customers' pain points and creating a solution is your number one priority.

     

    If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for Ikea. I was just in the Charlotte store again this week. While some people groan at the thought of putting together furniture with a small Allen wrench and a handful of wooden dowels, something about affordable Scandanavian home furnishings really gets me inspired.

    For me, Ikea in Charlotte is easily accessible. It’s not super far from home, it’s right off the main highway, and traffic in and out flows pretty smoothly. I know that’s not the case for every customer. People often drive from many miles away to shop at Ikea, making a day trip out of the entire shopping experience, or even take some unusual modes of transport to get there.

    Such is the case at Ikea’s newest location in Dubai -- which is actually not in Dubai but an hour south outside the city and on the far side of a literal desert. Accessing it is nothing short of a challenge.

    Recognizing that, Ikea came up with an unusual and very genius promotion: When a customer traveled to the new Dubai store, they simply showed their Google Maps Timeline to a store employee. For their commuting efforts, they received store credit equal to the average hourly wage for workers in that area, which is about $29/hour. The store even displayed the cost of some items in the store in units of time, in addition to the price. Customers who drove an hour had enough credit to receive a free LACK coffee table, for example, while a two-hour trip was enough for a free BILLY bookshelf.

    Some may dismiss the idea as just a marketing campaign to promote a new store, but I think it’s genius. Customers drove for hours and left feeling like it was totally worth it. How great is that? The entire thing should serve as a lesson about how to identify the pain points in your business and turn them into great experiences for your customers.

    Your business’ success depends on finding your customers’ pain points -- and then delivering a product or service that solves their needs. Pain points can become obstacles at any point before, during, or after purchase, so it’s important you are able to recognize what they are and address them before your customer becomes so frustrated that they move on to a competitor.

    Here are 3 simple methods for identifying pain points:

    1. Just ask.

    A simple survey can reveal a lot about customer pain points, but it’s important you keep it simple and ask questions that provide real, quantitative data and not just vague information. Be specific. If you’re asking how often someone consults or shops with you, for example, make sure you avoid using a form that contains the “very often, somewhat often, not that often…” fill-in-the-bubble answers. That data doesn’t provide you any real information. You want answers like, “Every month,” or “at least once per week.”

    Open-ended questions are important, too. My personal favorites are:

     - What problem were you trying to solve when you initially came across our product or service?

     - What are the top three benefits that you have received from us?

     - How could we improve our product/services to better meet your needs?

     - Who do you see as our main competitor and why?

     - What’s holding you back from using our additional products/services?

    2. Consult your sales team.

    Your sales team (or your waitstaff, your cashier, etc.) is on the front line and hears ‘no’ every time a prospect comes to the conclusion that your company isn’t the one to solve their pain problem. Perhaps it’s a pricing issue or a missing feature, but you need to find out what it is and how to turn it around in your favor.

    So, after every sales pitch that doesn’t end in a deal, ask your salespeople:

     - What were the pain points put forward by the prospect?

     - What did the prospect like/dislike about the product?

     - Why did the prospect turn down the product?

     - What would have kept the prospect from turning down the product?

     - Did the prospect compare our product with the competition? If yes, which aspect did they compare?

    These are valuable insights that can provide the direction you need to get moving in the right direction.

    3. Do your research.

    Your customers are online talking about you, so find out where they are and what they’re saying. Online review sites capture both grievances and praise, and hidden inside the grievances are pain points.

    Finally, check out your competition. Visit their websites to evaluate their messaging and their pricing. Compare that to what people are saying about them online. You might find some pain points you missed and/or some better ways to address them.

    Maybe your customers aren’t driving for hours to get to you like the Ikea customers in Dubai, but they’re struggling with something. Finding your customers' pain points is your #1 priority. You must identify them and get creative about improving them. The success of your business depends on it.

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