As designers and researchers, we love it when companies innovate based on inspiration found in their customers' everyday pain points. Check out these examples, and then learn more about the simple process of finding opportunities in customer needs.
1. Pain point: Tailgate deadweight.
The only time you need to open the lift gate on your SUV is to put something in or take something out. And when putting something in, it’s safe to say your hands are likely full. Retrieving your keys from your pocket to unlock the car and pull open the lift gate becomes an expert balancing act.
Not for Ford Escape owners. With the remote-entry key on their person, they need only flick a foot under the rear bumper. The sensors recognize the movement and automatically open the tailgate. Open sesame.
2. Pain point: Keeping things on track.
When an email goes unanswered, it's easy to let next steps slip through the cracks.
With Boomerang for Gmail, you can set that email you’re likely to forget to bounce back to you if nobody responds or just at a more convenient time. Your to-do list will thank you.
Or maybe you want to get ahead on some work, but you don't want to bug your clients with weekend emails. You can simply schedule it to be sent tomorrow morning instead.
3. Pain point: Avoiding second-sends.
When emailing a file, it's easy but very annoying to forget an attachment. It seems like everyone on the list opens the first, notices the mistake, and lets you know. Time wasted!
But if a Gmail message indicates there's an attached file, a dialog box appears when you press Send to warn you there are no files attached. Time (and embarrassment) saved.
4. Pain point: Delivering the full story.
Finding a convenient time to present design work and get everyone’s input on a project can be difficult. Especially when collaborating with teammates spread all over the country or even the world. Inevitably, the one or two people who have to review independently find themselves navigating aimlessly through a sea of screens.
To resolve this, the design collaboration tool InVision released a feature called Tours. The designer sets up a walkthrough of the designs, leaving comments on exactly what he needs input on. The feature provides the clear direction that’s necessary when a presentation can’t be delivered in real time.
5. Pain point: Knowing what you don't know.
Learning a new software involves knowing where and how to get started. Sometimes it can seem easier to just stick with what you know.
Axure recognizes that learning powerful software can be tedious and time-consuming. They've taken a stab at making the process a little bit easier. Their Thank You for Downloading page includes three different options to help you quickly get started.
But if you're not the self-learner type, we're official Axure Trainers.
6. Pain point: Sending a dead link.
Just like forgetting an email attachment, it’s really easy to forget to share a file in Google Drive with the recipient before sending the email. When sending an email with an attached Google Drive file,
Google will now alert you if the file is not shared with any of the recipients. You can even configure the share settings right there in the modal window. This feature helps to altogether avoid the Request Access email that would inevitably follow.
7. Pain point: Do I know you?
With the average 25-34 year old managing no fewer than 40 online accounts, it should come as no surprise that someone would be unsure about whether they’ve already created an account on a website. You’ll most likely get an error message after trying to log in - so you'll jump over to the Create Account page where typically, you’re required to re-enter the email address and password.
Easing the issue, Evernote preserves your login credentials as you toggle between Sign In and Create Account views. Instead of having to re-enter the username and password, you just have to tap Create Account and joila!
8. Pain point: Forum fatigue.
Forums are used for many different purposes: discussing interests, finding answers to common problems, or offering suggestions. But in a recent study, we heard from users that it's easy to assume that a topic has already been discussed. Finding out for sure is a daunting task.
join.me’s Ideas Forum and the knot's desktop feedback both feature predictive suggestions. As you begin typing in a suggestion, similar recommendations automatically begin loading on the page. Instead of duplicating a suggestion, you can up vote the existing one. You’re also able to vote for other suggestions you think would be helpful. A system like this cuts back on duplicate content, making the site easier to consume.
9. Pain point: Password recall.
With the typical user rotating between 5 passwords, it can be difficult remembering which one you used on which site. Layer in mobile fat-fingering and masked password fields, and its a recipe for frustration.
Using email to verify your identity, Slack offers you the option to email yourself a magic link to log in.
10. Pain point: Deposit drama.
Depositing a check into your bank account used to be a chore. It consisted of traveling to the bank, waiting in line, filling out a deposit slip and figuring out your account information.
In 2009, USAA Bank was the first to introduce remote deposit. The four largest U.S. banks, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo, have since followed suit. Nowadays, depositing that $5 birthday check from Grandma is complete with just a few taps on your smartphone.
Only once you have a thorough understanding of the pain points and opportunities in your product can you determine experiences that will delight your users and separate your product from its competitors.
Finding inspiration in customer pain points
1. Conduct user research
Observe your users as they use your or your competitor’s product. Note when something seems inconvenient or when they use a workaround to accomplish something. Sometimes users are so accustomed to a product (or so impressed with it, overall) that they may not fixate on minor frustrations. That’s why it’s so important to observe what users actually do rather than listening only what they say.
2. Create a user journey map
Use the information gleaned in your research to map out a typical customer’s journey. It’s important to keep in mind that users’ needs change in relation to time. Consider your users’ needs at each stage of their workflow.
- What their needs before they use your product?
- What are their needs while they’re using your product?
- How do their needs change as time progresses?
3. Hold a brainstorming session
Bring your team together to analyze the user journey map and brainstorm ways that your product could solve users’ pain points.
Look for patterns and group similar ideas together, have the team vote on which ideas they feel users would most benefit from. Then build a list of 3-5 actionable takeaways to inform the next steps.
- “Interviewing Humans” by Erika Hall
- “Persona Empathy Mapping” by Nikki Knox
- “All You Need to Know About Customer Journey Mapping” by Paul Boag
- “Next level brainstorming” by Airbnb Design Team