Customer Friction: How to Identify Pain Points

image of injured female runner with coach as concept for customer friction, aka customer pain points

Customer Friction: How to Identify Pain Points

Friction is great when trying to remove layers of paint but it will also remove layers of your customers’ patience. Identifying customer friction, aka pain points, is part of the ongoing work of creating great customer experience and enduring customer relationships. 

Survey Says – ouch

If you want to know what bothers your customers, ask them. Even single question surveys can yield beneficial information, like: “Did your item arrive damaged? Check yes or no.”

Single questions with multiple choice answers can also give you insight into problem areas. For example, why you have so many abandoned carts:

 “Why didn’t you complete your purchase today?”

  1. Checkout taking too long
  2. Required creating an account
  3. Didn’t accept my preferred form of payment
  4. Shipping cost too high
  5. Other

Asking for answers doesn’t mean you will get them. You don’t want your surveys to become a pain point. Keep them targeted and brief, offer a perk for completing the longer ones or at least make them entertaining. 

Also, be smart about timing. A survey that comes before a service is fully rendered or at an awkward time also adds friction . Someone who just had surgery needs at least enough time to have the anesthesia wear off before being expected to answer a survey.

Click, click, click…close

Long checkout processes, difficult to navigate websites, hidden customer service information, poor agent interactions are all examples of customer friction. Make every touchpoint as user friendly as possible. Ask yourself:

  • Would you find your website easy to use? 
  • Have you conducted user-testing on your website to identify pain points (before your customers do)? 
  • Do you know how many clicks it takes to complete a purchase? 
  • When did you last check your site loading time? 
  • Are your customer service options obvious? 
  • If you have limited coverage on one channel do you at least make your strongly supported channels easy to find?
  • If you conduct business through a proprietary app do you keep it up to date for both Apple and Android devices?

An interface that doesn’t work or works poorly, even once, can cost you valuable business. That goes especially for mobile devices.  Google even has a Mobile-Friendly test tool to let you know whether your site is indeed usable on mobile.

  • Are your agents actually answering customer questions?
  • How many touchpoints on average do your customers go through before resolution?
  • Do your agents know how to ask clarifying questions?
  • Are your agents well-informed on your product? 
  • Do your agents communicate clearly and efficiently?
  • Is empathy evident in customer interactions with agents?
  • Do you provide ongoing training for agents to support them and your customers?

One bad interaction is all it takes for many customers to leave a brand altogether (52% according to Zendesk CX Trends Report 2023). Training and supporting agents is proactively addressing customer friction.

Data-driven decisions

You can’t fix something you can’t see. Website analytic tools give you the information to identify customer friction and make data-driven decisions to eliminate them.


Different types of heatmaps can help identify customer actions, and bugs. Scroll maps show you how far customers travel on the page and where they might be stuck. 

Heatmaps also show where your customers spend most of their time on your site. If they tend to exit after being in a certain section of a page that could be a friction point. 

You can see where customers rage-click – that frantic frequent clicking on something that doesn’t behave as expected – out of frustration. Numerous sessions of that are a pretty good indicator of a customer pain point.

Funnel Analysis

There are heatmaps that track the series of actions that result in conversion. Recording user mouse movement, clicks, scrolling, these tools show amounts of drop offs and conversions. 

Identifying high traffic pages with high drop off rates can narrow where in a funnel a customer friction point exists. Addressing these points can have a direct effect on conversion rates.

Further, comparing the number of visitors vs number of sign ups, purchases or upgrades can reveal friction. 

AI Summaries

Customer pain points are revealed in customer service interactions as well. Generative AI summaries provide coaching opportunities, praising what agents have done well and identifying areas needing improvement.

Speaking of agents, AI can also track their interactions with customers as they occur. This provides the opportunity for agents to address and eliminate pain points in the moment. It’s better to address friction before it becomes the final imprint the customer is left with, as they may not return.

Short term and long term goals go hand in hand. This means a blend of manual and AI solutions. For example, create surveys based on AI derived data. Use a heatmap to identify where users drop off. For other friction points, use a customer segmented survey about a particular issue, so you don’t annoy customers with too many questions. Then use AI to verify your results. 

In regard to agents, you can engage AI to provide in the moment coaching. Then verify with AI that CX has improved after a period of such coaching. 

With tools like these, there’s no need to take guesses about what your customer friction points are. The big picture of customer pain points requires some investment, it’s true. However, a proactive approach and AI tools can help you identify areas of customer friction and reduce your effort and cost.