Marketplaces grow and thrive by identifying customer pain points and building a better technology bridge to alleviate them. These platforms help providers connect with individuals or businesses who use their products or services. I recently sat in on an investor pitch where a startup marketplace announced that they spent $3 million building the perfect product for their target market. The management team explained that they envisioned every category that would sell on their platform. They had built out a unique workflow for each category. The only problem is that they were pre-revenue and projected reaching $600,000 in five years. Even if they were in two categories five years from now, that would have been only $300,000 per category. Building a “comprehensive” product before understanding customer behavior is not an optimal strategy.
A more compelling pitch would have included how the company built a workflow for a single category to solve specific pain points. Then, show traction by converting prospects into loyal customers by solving the customer’s problem.
At every phase in the evolution of a marketplace, or in any business for that matter, a company should endeavor to address the pain points of its customers. This post considers where to find customer pain points and how to use this information to improve the performance of your business.
How to Find Customer Pain Points
Opportunities to find customer pain points are closer than they appear. Use the steps below to help you understand your customer’s.
Ask the Customer Where It Hurts
Use quantitative or qualitative market research to ask customers what they dislike (or like) about an experience they had with your product. A focus group of targeted customers may yield information about customer pain points. Product teams can use user interviews to gain a better understanding of customer likes and dislikes. A marketing team may use market research, such as customer satisfaction surveys. Gathering information from existing customers in a single-question survey after a customer service interaction is another useful tool. Consider all opportunities to gather direct customer feedback and incorporate them to develop a better customer experience.
Ask Your Sales Reps
Your front-line workers gather information every day through their regular interaction with customers. Listen to what sales reps say frustrates them. Why are they not closing more sales? What do they hear about competitors’ products and services? While you may not be able to address every sales reps’ concerns, insight from the sales process can be invaluable in addressing customer pain points.
Pay Attention to Customer Service Inquiries
In this age of DIY, many customers will try to solve a problem themselves through self-service account management features. By the time many customers call or email for customer service, they have exhausted other options and are exasperated. What common complaints do customer service reps hear? How can you use this knowledge to prevent future customer calls? Use input from customer service agents as well as chatbots or live chat options to better understand customer needs.
Read Online Reviews
Read reviews on Yelp, Google and Amazon to understand customer pain points. Negative reviews are more common than positive reviews simply because a bad customer experience is more likely to result in a review. Use this information to learn what customers expect and where they are disappointed. Read competitor reviews as well as your own.
Reviews for providers should be of particular interest to marketplace businesses. Not only will these reviews help you understand your best performing suppliers, but they can also give you clues on how to employ tech to build a better bridge. Look for patterns across providers to develop a prioritized list of potential product improvements.
Use Google Keyword Tools
Even if you are not advertising on Google, creating a Google Ads account will give you access to Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Often, this tool will give you insight into search terms that you have not previously considered. When someone types something into Google, they are asking a question. The Keyword tool let’s you learn about multiple questions or multiple pain points a target customer has.
If you are advertising on Google, another place to capture great intel is in actual search terms. “Search keywords” are the words you buy from Google Ads. “Search terms” are the actual words customers search for that are related to your search keywords. If you are a Google advertiser, use search terms to find exactly what words customers use to describe their pain point.
Dig in the Data
For marketplaces, end user and provider data will shed light on customer pain points. For instance, if you offer a pay-in-full option and a pay-over-time option, which does your customer select more frequently? If your platform providers offer multiple services, which ones do end users select the most? Which of your providers have the highest close rate? What do they do differently than other providers? Discovering trends in internal data may reveal what your customers need most.
How to Employ Pain Point Knowledge
The information you gather from researching customers’ pain points is more than a nice-to-know. There are a multitude of ways to use this information to improve business performance.
For most tech companies, the customer information is used to develop product features that met a customer need. Indeed, this data can help an organization prioritize product features. But, just as importantly, this information should be shared with the marketing organization. Marketing can use it to develop content for your website or other digital assets, create compelling messaging for advertisements and craft call-to-actions for landing pages. The info may also be used to develop an FAQ guide that might help reduce the number of customer service inquiries.
Start gathering more about your customers’ pain points today. Share it broadly within your organization. And, track the improvement in your business performance.