Pain points aren't always the answer

Dig deep for long-term success

Your daily experience is to understand everything around you.

You try to perceive what you experience by the minute:

the book you read, a request you receive, a discussion to convey, a movie you watch, a task assigned to you, a story, an idea, etc.

The list goes on.

Some matters are easy to understand, process, and respond to.

And some are complex to understand, like the universe and science.

Yet they're not as complex at the social level, but still, you misunderstand one another.

Business is often treated like a social setting when it comes to understanding customers.

Everyone is saying the same thing: listen to your customers, talk to your customers, and get their feedback for the service or product you sell.

That's true.

You need to collect pain points from customers, much like an antenna receiving electromagnetic waves from different devices.

Then, you slip those pain points into your pocket and sit in your office, pondering solutions to improve.

That's not how it works. It may address one person's problem, yet you need to understand their full environment.

In the food business, direct feedback works. It's a simple business with no other hidden causes to discover.

Other types of businesses are evolving as life, technology, people's behaviors, experiences, struggles, needs, and emotions evolve.

Pain points alone won't provide a detailed view. They represent direct problems that stem from other indirect causes, which you won't get from customers directly.

In a project aimed at improving user experience for a mobile banking application.

The team conducted research to collect pain points from users.

They identified common issues. such as slow loading times, confusing navigation, and limited functionality for certain transactions.

Despite addressing these pain points directly in the redesign of the app. user satisfaction did not improve significantly.

Upon further analysis. the root cause of the problem lay in the infrastructure supporting the app.

Despite addressing pain points, users continued to experience frustrations due to backend system limitations.

Surface level improvement happen because you focus on obvious pain point for the following reasons:

  • Resource limitations: talent , budget

  • Short-term focus

  • Risk aversion: fear that delving deep into problems could uncover additional challenges

A mediocre mechanic fixes only the direct cause of a problem, leading to recurring issues, visits and expenses.

A great mechanic identifies all affected parts and offers a comprehensive solution. This approach saves time, money, and prevents future problems.

Problem-solving projects work in the same manner.

If you want to improve what you sell, it's your role to break down human complexity and understand their behavior, experiences, and interactions.

Lego company. noted only 9% of their toy users were young girls, despite their marketing efforts.

They didn't find out the reason by asking and capturing answers only. A group of design researchers observed how young girls play and behave with their toys.

They realized that girls paid more attention to interior layouts and structural details.

Girls also preferred building entire environments rather than single structures.

These insights provided information on how the new product features should be designed. for the targeted demographic.

Lego Friends was introduced and it became a hit. Sales tripled to $900 million in 2014 from $300 million in 2011.

The lesson is that customers' pain points won't paint the full picture of the problem. Remember the analogy of the mechanic and the broken car.

Obvious pain points may provide immediate relief.

it's important to recognize the value of digging deeper to address root causes and foster long-term success and innovation.

Dig deeper to bid on the future with confidence.

Read my post about how age is linear, not your experience, where I introduce a simple framework on how to improve and progress faster.

Thanks for reading!


PS two things I can help you with:

finding opportunities and designing the blocks of the solution. within any area: transformation, improvement, innovation, strategy, or product.

on a project you are working on, need help to set direction to reach desired outcomes,