Ease your customers’ pain points and create loyalty and satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is important to nearly every business, and providing positive experiences is a primary goal. Satisfaction is a major motivator and it certainly increases sales and boosts brand loyalty. But for most people, avoiding pain is a greater motivator than pursuing pleasure. When a problem hangs over your head, it’s hard to think about anything else.
Pain doesn’t have to be physical to motivate behavior. By the time a customer reaches out to you, that customer has reached a pain point—a trouble spot that leads to action. Their work boots are wearing thin, they need help with their taxes, they’re hungry. In each case, they need help to solve a problem. That seems straightforward, but sometimes they’re looking for something beyond the obvious. The better you understand what they’re really looking for, the more likely you are to meet their needs and create satisfied customers. Read on to learn how to ease your customers’ pain points and create loyalty and satisfaction.
Hiding in Plain Sight: Find the Real Source of Their Pain
You think you know why a customer seeks out your products or services. But do you really? The difference between providing what customers seem to want and what they’re really seeking can be significant. Often, it’s the unspoken benefits that sway a customer your way.
Let’s say you own a pizza restaurant. Serving top-quality pizza is your greatest concern. You think your excellent ingredients and wood-fired crusts should be enough to ensure success. But what are your customers really looking for? Some care about your San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella. But other aspects of your business might be even more important to general customer satisfaction. They might visit you because:
- They live within walking distance of your restaurant
- Your prices are lower than other pizzerias in the area
- You offer plentiful seating and a comfy atmosphere
- You have a generous customer loyalty program
- You offer ready-to-go pizza slices with no wait
- You’re open until 2 a.m.
- You have live music every weekend
- You’re located in a popular part of town
- You have plentiful free parking
Depending on which pain points matter most to them (budget, convenience, speed, comfort), your customers might choose a restaurant even if it’s not their favorite. Finding out what is most important to your customers shows you where to invest your resources. Will you spend more for a better location? Or will you hire extra help to stay open late? When you know your customers’ true desires, you can focus on the market that makes the most sense for your business.
Customers tell you what they want, but be alert to clues to hidden desires. When you understand true needs, you can address both obvious and hidden pain points. If you address what you think are primary needs (like unusual flavor combinations) but miss out on other desires (like quick service or pleasing atmosphere), your customers will be unhappy even if you serve great pizza. Meet their top needs needs and they’ll share good word of mouth and return—they might even become regulars and bring friends.
Show that You Share Their Values
Customers want to feel that you care about their happiness and concerns. They want to know that you can meet their needs. To find out what they really want, engage with them in the way they find most comfortable. Being friendly helps. But making them comfortable may also mean backing off if they don’t want too much attention and would rather explore your business on their own.
Increasingly, positive engagement means online engagement. Help customers find your business online with a good website. Your site should feature photos, contact information, testimonials from satisfied customers, hours, maps—all the basics. Update it regularly with timely suggestions and seasonal specials. Encourage visitors to leave comments, and respond positively. Most consumers research businesses online, so having a solid web presence makes you look more trustworthy and established.
Beyond a website, you’ll want to appear on popular social media sites that appeal to your target customers. Facebook is the most popular site overall, so if you choose only one, start there. Update posts frequently with original content. They needn’t be fancy or long; upbeat photos or videos of your product are fine. Fancy infographics are nice, but photos of happy customers using your products in fun ways can also appeal to customers. The key is sharing appealing messages that address customer needs. Let them know how you can solve their problems. Continuing with the pizzeria example, you could include the following in your social media posts and in paid social media ads:
- Emphasize your late hours to college students in night time Facebook ads—a simple photo of a slice of pizza titled “Time for a study break?” followed by a mention of your hours will do it
- Advertise special deals on your slowest business days
- Offer “celebrate friendship” discounts to customers who bring friends
- Offer happy hour promotions or special event tie-ins to draw new customers
- Run online ads to reach customers in micro-moments when they’re hungry and want food now
Customers prefer businesses that offer a personal touch and are well-differentiated from similar businesses. Emphasize these differences in your social posts. Consider which pain points your business addresses best—quality, convenience, uniqueness or novelty, for example. Then set yourself apart by emphasizing them.
Aim Your Message at the Right Audience
To get your social media content seen, people need to find and follow you. But even followers won’t see most of your posts in their feeds. Facebook makes sure of that to encourage businesses to pay for views and clicks. Since you can’t rely on unpaid content to reach customers, you want to advertise. Paid online advertising is an effective way to attract customers and boost sales. Hyperlocal social media ads are especially good at building awareness among people who haven’t heard of you before. They also reach people during moments when they’re nearby and ready to buy. With social media ads, you can put positive thoughts about your business into people’s heads before they realize they need you. Then when they have a problem to solve (they need a gardener, a vacation, a new pair of jeans), they think of you.
Advertising with search engines like Google can be a valuable way to reach customers based on search queries. People who run searches are already thinking about your products or services. They’re ready to buy. They have a problem to solve, and they want to know who can solve it. Think about their most likely problems and the best ways to solve them. This helps with marketing strategies and advertising keywords.
Think Like Your Ideal Customer
Get into the head of your target customer. Which customers do you most want to attract? For each main type, create a buyer persona. Consider demographics (age, gender, spending habits, income, etc.), interests and habits. Which problems can you solve for each persona? Which challenges get in the way of their becoming your customers? How can you help to solve those problems?
First, think about the most obvious problem you solve. Next, list the underlying problems your customers need help with. Say you’re a party planner. Your clients want to have a fun party that goes smoothly and leaves a great impression. One of their biggest unstated needs is avoiding the embarrassment of a poorly planned, badly executed event. They want to make sure all the details are handled properly and with minimal stress. Your clients want you to make them look good and shield them from difficulties. They rely on your taste, access to good deals and knowledge of protocol and tradition. They also expect you to dream up fresh and unusual experiences for their guests. What a lot of unspoken needs!
When you promote your business, find ways to address common but unstated concerns—the hidden pain points your business relieves. In this case, show examples of your taste level, organizational skills and ability to get things done smoothly. References and testimonials help any kind of service provider to calm unstated fears. Ease potential worries by addressing these issues in your marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve visualized your target customer, find some real ones and ask them what they want:
- Get input from sales people or other customer service associates. They know your customers and have heard their stories about competitors.
- Which pain points does your competition address? How can you position your products and ads differently?
- Consider running customer surveys on social media, or meeting with focus groups.
- Ask questions of your Facebook followers. Engage with customers. Get into positive conversations online.
Remember Your Hidden Customers
Is the person you’re selling to the person who’ll use your product or service? Sometimes your customer isn’t the person who shows up at your door. Find out whether the end-user is also the buyer. If a parent or a boss is making purchase for a child or employee, soothing the concerns of the buyer may be at least as important as meeting the needs of the ultimate consumer. It’s best if you can find a solution that pleases both parties. Try to determine the purchaser and the likely user of your products, then position and advertise them accordingly.
When you figure out how to address the pain points of each of your target customers, it’s easier to position products and please your customers. Your business will become more focused, and your messaging will become more appealing and relevant. And that’s good news for both you and your customers.
Laura Grey lives in Boston and writes about location intelligence issues for Spatially, a location technology startup dedicated to helping local businesses connect with their most relevant customers. Spatially has offices in Boston, Seattle and Miami.