Jun 15, 2011

Find Customer Pain Points to Inspire Innovation

Knowing where it hurts is step one to relieving the pain. 

Most of the questions business people ask customers about their business lead to answers that help them tweak their products, leading to incremental improvements. If you want real innovation, dig deeper to reach the pain [...]
One of the case studies presented at BlogWorld was about Foiled Cupcakes, a business that was born when a parent in suburban Chicago decided to do something about the fact that she and other moms wanted cupcakes for their kids’ parties and get-togethers, but didn’t want to spend hours driving all the way into the city and back to get them. She built a successful business to eliminate that bother using Twitter as her main marketing tool.

Want to find out the pain your customers are trying to ease? Take a look at the search terms that people used that led them to your site. Make a point of reading customer emails or have your customer service department provide a weekly report indicating the kinds of questions, complaints or comments they receive. If you have a retail store, spend time debriefing your salespeople about all this. It’s what you observe and hear when customers talk to salespeople that will be helpful, not just what they tell you.
  • If you sell to retailers, go into the aisles and do the same.
  • If you provide a service, find out what your clients’ frustrations have been with service providers in the past.
  • Offer customers a cup of coffee in a quiet location and start an informal conversation.
  • Take an online survey.
  • Start a conversation on Facebook.
Once you have learned the specific words that people use to describe their problems by listening strategically, you can respond to them using their own vocabulary.
  • If you are writing an e-newsletter, use those words in the subject line.
  • Create an FAQ on your site to provide answers to the questions you’ve heard.
  • Write blog posts to respond to your customers’ hot buttons.
  • Create a video that explains how to do something your customers have been struggling with.
Facing the pain that people experience means opening yourself up to information you may not always want to hear. It’s not easy to listen to peoples’ problems, especially when it’s related to your business, but there is opportunity for those who do and who care enough to solve them.