5 Questions To Get Customers To Reveal Their Real Problems

In great pain lies dorman profit. Pain points, frustrations and workarounds are the basis for insights about customer needs. How do you find them and what questions do you ask to uncover them? First thing you’ll have to do is find a problem worth solving, this means you’ll have to talk to potential customers / users of your product or service. Getting this part right is super important because it will determine what you’ll build or won’t!

In the video below Eric Migicovsky, from Y Combinator, explains “how to talk to users” by using 5 questions to understand their pain points:


5 questions to understand customer pain points

The 5 questions to understand customer pain points are broken down as follows:

  • Hardest part
  • The last time
  • Why it was hard
  • What have you tried
  • What don’t you love

What’s the hardest thing about [doing this thing]?

The goal of this questions is to find the part of the problem that’s frequent or painful enough to be worth solving. This creates an open-ended conversation about how they currently deal with the problem.

Tell me about the last time you encountered that problem?

The goal of this question is to get more context on the situation when the problem occurs. Better understand the scenarios your problem occurs in so you can don’t miss parts of the problem; who were they with? what happened?

Why was that hard?

The goal of this question is to understand how to explain your solution to potential new customers. Remember, customers buy the “why” not the “what”.

What, if anything, have you done to solve the problem?

The goal of this question is to understand if it’s worth solving. Learn the tools and processes your solution will be compared against. If they haven’t tried solving the problem, then the pain may not be big enough to get them to buy.

What don’t you love about the solutions you’ve tried?

The goal of this question is to understand opportunities to build features that better solve the problem. Helps you learn the difference between your solution and what exists in the market today.

Bottom line: The above questions are a good starting point. But customer discovery never stops, and you should combine this with direct observation of the customer while they’re using existing solutions; because observations can be as powerful as questions.