What Are Pain Points?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn the meaning and potential consequences of pain points for a business.

[Featured image] Three coworkers discuss customer pain points in front of a whiteboard covered in colored Post-it notes.

Pain points refer to specific issues encountered by customers, both existing and potential, within the business environment. Pain points can lead to negative experiences for customers, influencing their decision-making process and potentially dissuading them from making a purchase.

Notably, customer pain points can have implications on several aspects of a business, including product quality, research and development, brand image, and competitive positioning.

In a Statista survey looking at drivers of customer frustration, 27 percent of Americans said ineffective customer service, while 12 percent cited lack of speed as their primary concern [1].

Types of customer pain points 

Pain points can have an effect on any stage of the customer journey. The list below outlines a few common types of customer pain points.

  • Productivity pain points. Productivity pain points can stem from inefficient workflows and obsolete or out-of-date tools. For example, manual entry of product details into an inventory management system can be cumbersome and lead to customer dissatisfaction. 

  • Support pain points. Lacking customer support for a product or service creates a support pain point for customers. Limited availability of sales representatives during the purchase phase and prolonged delays in obtaining technical support are common manifestations of support pain points.

  • Financial pain points. Financial pain points arise when customers perceive the lack of a fair deal. Hidden fees, ambiguous price models, or changing rates can also deter customers from making a purchase.

  • Process pain points. This type of pain point results from design shortcomings, such as an excessive number of steps to download an application or a clumsy drop-down menu, leading to poor user experiences.

How to identify customer pain points

Here are some tips for identifying pain points before they become bottlenecks.

1. Ask the right people. 

Customer-facing employees, such as those in customer service and sales can provide valuable insights into customer issues. By interviewing employees and focusing on frequently mentioned issues, you can pinpoint customer pain points impacting your business.

2. Conduct customer surveys.

Get to know the pain points of your customers through qualitative market research. Be sure to include open-ended questions in your survey to encourage participants to provide detailed answers.

3. Check for online reviews.  

Monitor social media and trusted review sites to identify customer pain points as they occur.  Peer-to-peer review sites, such as Trustpilot, serve as a treasure trove of information for brands, as they contain a vast array of customer experiences. 

After understanding pain points, it is essential to promptly and effectively address the woes. This could involve making improvements to product design, enhancing customer service processes, streamlining user experiences, or introducing new features or functionalities that better align with customer expectations.

Get started 

Advance your customer experience skills with the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. The program can help you gain fundamental knowledge in UX research, including planning research studies, conducting usability tests, and synthesizing research findings.

Article sources

  1. Statista. “From your experience, what has been the one most common cause of your customer service frustration?, https://www.statista.com/statistics/815599/causes-of-customer-service-frustration-us/.” Accessed August 18, 2023. 

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