Just Tell Me Where It Hurts…

In sales and marketing circles you will hear a lot of advice about finding a prospective customer’s “pain point.” A pain point is the when and the why, the reason customers choose you: the point at which they realize you offer the solution to their need (their “pain”). I choose Lowe’s when I have a home improvement need because they’re comprehensive, generally helpful, and nearby; I choose a nail when I want to hang a picture because it’s simple, cheap, and readily available. The Mexican restaurant I choose most frequently, I patronize (when I’m hungry!) because it has the good fortune to be quite near to me, but mainly because my daughter, who rules our roost, is treated like a young lady there, and she loves their food and the fish they keep in a tank in the dining area. I’d bet they wouldn’t guess at least two of those pain points (Upscale Mexican restaurants satisfying small dictators? Fish tanks?). They’ve (probably accidentally) solved my pain points. This can be planned.

Today’s Experience Design case study: A friend is a loosely associated stakeholder in a local pub. They’ve got growth issues, as in they aren’t getting enough. My friend knows this and has been knocking around some ideas about how to pull in more patrons. We talked briefly about a somewhat gimmicky idea he’s had (it might have some merit), and then I asked the question not everyone is ready to hear: How about the basics?

How About the Basics?

My friend is one of many with an interest in the pub. I gave him a few thinking-points to go back to his group with, including most of the questions below. Try these to start your strategic thinking:

  • What is the growth plan for the business? In other words, how do you know you’re not reaching your target, and how will you know when you are?
  • What’s the overall Vision? Why are you in this business, doing it this way?
  • Do you know why current customers choose you? (This is their “pain point.”)
  • What is current business like (in terms of numbers, typical order, time in store, etc.)? Do you have regulars (fans), or once-and-done guests?
  • (This pub has a fairly captive stream of actual foot-traffic, actively NOT choosing them, so also) Have you asked about the habits of prospective guests who are not coming in? (Why are you not their solution to the pain?)
  • Do you patronize the pub when you’re nearby?
  • What’s your Internet presence like? (I did my homework–theirs is distinctly uninformative and uninviting.)
  • Are your signage and entry drawing people in?
  • What’s the atmosphere like (interiors, fellow patrons, noise level)?
  • Is your menu clear and inviting? Do guests have to guess at or hunt for information?
  • Have you anonymously evaluated the service?
  • How’s the food (the drinks, and the wait)?
  • Have you interviewed the bartender, the chef, and your servers to get their opinions of what is and is not working? Remember, these internal stakeholders may be much more in tune than office staff to the problems and the potential of your business–they interact with customers every day!
  • Before throwing good money at gimmicks, what efforts are you currently making in publicizing the business? What sort of return do you see on these efforts?
  • Have you devoted enough effort to the research and strategic planning that will tell you whether an (expensive) gimmick is the right step for the pub?

I invited my friend to suggest VisionPoints if they’d like help working on growing their business. Will I hear from them? Sometimes prospects are not yet ready to listen to your message. (Just like the patrons they want to draw in to the pub!) Their pain is not yet acute enough to see the need for an outside solution.

What would you add to this list? What basic points should owners and managers evaluate to discover the holes in their current Customer Experience? How do you find and resolve the “pain points” of your current and prospective customers?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

P.S. Still thinking about gimmicks? Don’t miss Seth Godin’s take on transforming gimmicks by adding customer value.