Pain vs. Pleasure in Product Decisions

Spiral notebooks

Are your product development surveys all about new bells and whistles? That’s critical information—and fun—but it’s never the whole picture.

On the less fun side is asking what irritates your customers. This is also more expensive to research, both because collecting the information is more involved (verbatims, interviews, forum mining), and because digging through both measured and SHOUTED complaints about our products is exhausting.

Why do you care about their pain? Because retaining current customers is far less expensive than acquiring new ones.

Picture a new entrant in the market. Their pitch to a slice of your users might be “We don’t have all the features of your current product, but we’re half the price and you know those four hours a week you spend rearranging data in Excel? That disappears.” As someone who’s spent quality time rearranging data because of limited import/export options, that utterly un-sexy enhancement sounds like bliss.

Also, while some pain points may involve a major product change, others may have a tiny remedy. Three product irritations I’ve dealt with just this morning:

  • My toothbrush, which tends to roll to the side when I put toothpaste on it. I’m tempted to grind a section of the handle flat myself so I can stop wiping toothpaste off my counter.
  • Two spiral notebooks, one which allows me to slip a pen in the wire coil, and one which makes me juggle the pen in every event without a table. It’s irksome enough I comparison shop every time I need to order more.
  • iCloud photo, where I had to scroll past 908 images to get to this post’s groundbreaking image. They already group by date, why not let me set a range?

Sounds silly, right? Things you’d never brag about on a press release, things nobody would report to a customer service line, but they remove a little friction in a customer’s day. I’m still thankful my credit union revised their app’s login screen so the second field and button are no longer covered by my phone keyboard.

What can you tweak today?

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Thanks again for the excellent training sessions. You were able to keep it interesting and worth every penny. You have such a thorough understanding of the software. ~~sigh~~ to be that wise!

Susan L. Despot
California University of Pennsylvania