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The 8 biggest customer satisfaction challenges and how to overcome them

Deeply understanding your user needs, drivers, and desires is the key to improving your customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. 

But mastering customer satisfaction and overcoming its biggest challenges involves navigating a tricky balancing act. You need to actively respond to customer concerns, adapt to their changing wants and needs, and understand a range of customer motivations—all while keeping your brand, product, and values intact. 

Last updated

21 Sep 2022
Roadmaps can align your team around short and long term goals. But how do you prioritize goals for your roadmap? Click to learn how.

This article guides you through eight key customer satisfaction challenges (and solutions) companies experience, so you can better anticipate pitfalls, deliver on shifting requirements, and level up your customer experience (CX)

Want to increase customer satisfaction on your site or digital product?

Hotjar’s tools give you key insights about customer satisfaction and the reasons behind it—so you know exactly what to improve.

Top 8 customer satisfaction challenges (and solutions) 

Customer satisfaction challenges can be a result of:

  • Poor communication with your customers

  • Not understanding what your customers want to achieve with your product

  • A bad product experience (PX) that prevents customers from coming back

But to tackle these challenges and improve customer satisfaction, you need to balance customer and business needs without compromising your unique selling proposition (USP)

Remember: you can’t satisfy everyone. But staying true to your brand, product, and company vision helps you provide real value to your target customers and their specific needs—and carve out a niche for your brand. 

Let’s explore some common challenges to customer satisfaction and how to overcome them, so you can foster a customer-centered experience that accurately reflects (and delivers on) user needs. 

1. Understanding customer needs 

As customer needs and buying behaviors change, it can be difficult to pinpoint what they want—especially considering how much needs vary between different customer profiles. And how do you know whether you’re satisfying customers if you don’t know exactly what their needs are? 

For example, a product team might not know what features or upgrades to prioritize if they don’t have insights into their target customers’ motivations, problems, or desires—which could negatively impact their customer satisfaction score with each new product or feature rollout. 

So, how do you find out what your customers are thinking and feeling, and use those insights to turn your product into a valuable solution for different user types? Here are some methods you can use:  

  • Do market research to achieve better product positioning and highlight your service's USP. Use LinkedIn to keep up to date with trending industry topics and experts; check out popular market trends or statistics on Statista; or read competitor analysis and customer reviews on G2 to dive deep into your competitors, their audience, and what attracts them to the product or brand. 

  • Survey and interview customers to better understand your product’s real use cases. Ask them what they like or dislike or how you could improve their product experience. 

  • Spot patterns in user behavior: use customer analytics software or tools like Woopra to gather diverse insights throughout entire customer journeys based on hashtag use, social media activity, and website traffic. 

  • Develop your ideal customer profile (ICP) by analyzing key user insights. Analyze trends in customer behavior, characteristics, pain points, and demographics like job title and geographic location. 

  • Segment customers into the ICP persona that suits them best to make sure you’re pinpointing and delivering on each customer type’s specific needs. For example, a SaaS company might target certain personas with a personalized email drip campaign and get them to speed up adoption by appealing to that group’s proven need for a specific product feature. Then, they could introduce those same people to other product features during the user onboarding process.

Customer satisfaction can be improved by making sure you have a solid understanding of your target audience and their needs so you can tailor your product offering accordingly. This will help you create a product that’s truly unique and valued by your customers. It’ll also help you understand why your customers are satisfied or dissatisfied with your product offering.

Brian Greenberg
Founder and President, Insurist

Pro tip: use Hotjar's (hi, there👋) Observe tools to dive deeper into understanding your customers, their needs, and what motivates them. Watch Recordings of users as they explore your website or digital product, or create Heatmaps of your high- and low-performing web pages to see where they click and how far they scroll—so you know what engages them, what blocks them, and how to improve their experience.

#Hotjar Session Recordings can help you spot bugs in a new version of your product.

Source: Hotjar

Hotjar Session Recordings let you visualize how users navigate your website and digital product 

2. Prioritizing customer needs and requests

Now that you know what your customer needs are, the next challenge is knowing which requests to prioritize and act on. Satisfying customers isn’t about building every feature they ask for or acting on every demand

For example, if an ecommerce website like Amazon implemented all its customer feedback, it’d be an unrecognizable brand with a chaotic product offering, unable to provide true value to any particular customer type. 

Remember: there are many ways businesses can improve their customer experience while maintaining their unique style and tone of voice. And when you’re dealing with competing urgent requests, analyze various sources of customer data to determine which changes best align with your value proposition and promote healthy product backlog management. Here’s how:

  • Map the customer journey to understand key customer interactions with your digital product and website. Track how different user personas experience the customer journey and identify any points of friction or opportunities for improvement. 

  • Follow social media mentions to learn more about customer needs with social listening tools like Brandwatch or BuzzSumo, and gather customer support tickets and user feedback

  • Categorize customer experience insights by product updateslike feature requests and product design changesor problems concerning bug reports, and the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)

  • Analyze trends or patterns in high-volume requests and sort them into high-priority or low-priority categories based on your business and product requirements. For example, if one customer asks for improvements on your ecommerce website's checkout page, but another prefers it to stay the same, first determine the popularity of your requests. Then, use the insights you gather to understand if your checkout page is causing an urgent problem in the customer journey. Finally, survey your customers to find out which checkout page format is more popular and why.

  • Focus on high-value changes like urgent problems in product functionality or changes that align with your product roadmap and are within your team’s capacity. For example, by reviewing and segmenting customer feedback, a SaaS team might notice that a buggy user interface blocks users from subscribing to their software. Because that’s an urgent functionality problem that directly affects the user experience, they’ll know they should act quickly to resolve and prevent any customer satisfaction issues. 

  • Implement your changes and survey customers, or collect instant feedback on your new product update or feature to gauge customer satisfaction and impact

🔥Pro tip: group support tickets and feedback from customer interviews into categories to better prioritize and understand the why behind customer needs and requests.

For example, after noticing a build-up of support tickets in their UI category, a product team might watch Recordings of users navigating their digital product, where they notice their navigation buttons aren’t apparent or intuitive to new users—alerting them to redesign their UI and boost their customer satisfaction score.

3. Using the right tools and channels 

With more and more customer touchpoints, channels, tools, and insights emerging all the time, it can be hard to know if you’re harnessing the right technology to effectively reach and satisfy your customers

Finding the right tools and channels for your business is all about understanding your target audience and what they’re trying to achieve—their jobs to be done (JTBD)and understanding your own business goals and marketing strategy:

  • Research the tools your competitors are using: for example, if you're a SaaS startup only using email to communicate with your potential customers, consider adding a live chat widget to your site to offer additional customer support and engagement

  • Invest in omnichannel communication to target your customer types wherever they are. Unify the customer journey across all communication channels and touchpoints: third-party apps, mobile devices, text, chatbots, email, social media platforms, and company websites. 

  • Talk to your customers throughout the customer journey and place unobtrusive Hotjar Feedback widgets on key touchpoints or conversioncheckout and landing—pages to find out what's lacking in their product experience or what improvements they’d like to see.

  • Find tools that facilitate customer engagement like Kommunicate.io, LiveChat, WhatsApp, or chatbot software to answer user questions, provide resources, and promote product adoption

  • Choose tools that help you achieve your marketing strategy: your marketing plan should detail which channels your target audience uses the most, your budget, your marketing techniques or content strategy, and your publishing schedule. For example, if your marketing plan states you should post to Instagram three times per week, invest in tools like Hootsuite that make scheduling content easy. That way, you’re finding tools and channels that complement each other and your business goals. 

4. Consistently communicating with customers  

Customer satisfaction relies on your ability to build rapport with your customers and forge new ways of communicating with them across multiple channels. But staying consistent in your communication can be overwhelming, especially when you’re dealing with a lot of customers across tons of channels. 

So what can you do to communicate regularly and effectively with your customers? Here are some ideas: 

  • Post regularly on social media and schedule your content with tools like Loomly or Sendible to keep your audience engaged. Poll your audience using Instagram stories, respond to comments directly, and repost user-generated content to inspire community engagement. 

  • Develop internal communication systems that route customer support tickets to customer service as well as the appropriate department to promote cross-functional collaboration. For example, after explaining a problem to a customer support agent, a frustrated customer shouldn’t have to start from scratch after being transferred to another department. 

  • Personalize content to reach different customer profiles at different stages of their customer journey. For instance, an ecommerce company could send out targeted emails reminding customers to complete their purchase after recently abandoning their cart, or a product team might send a survey to recent subscribers to keep their product top of mind and two-way communication channels open. 

  • Enable customer support teams with the right tools, training, and resources to empathize with customers, spot potential problems, and proactively find solutions or provide tips to alleviate their frustrations. 

  • Regularly collect customer feedback by using Hotjar Feedback widgets and Survey tools to gauge customer sentiments and proactively identify any user issues or blockers to the customer experience.

#Hotjar Surveys lets you easily communicate with customers and better understand their experience.

Source: Hotjar
Hotjar Surveys lets you easily communicate with customers and better understand their experience. Source: Hotjar

How to deal with difficult customer questions 

Part of communicating with your customers means facing difficult questions you might not have the answer to, yet. And when it’s a time-sensitive situation or you’re on the phone speaking with someone directly, you don’t want to disappoint. But giving your customer the wrong answer could frustrate them even more, or initiate their search for an entirely new solution. 

If you’re in this situation, you should: 

  • Take your time: a great customer service agent shouldn’t feel pressured to provide an answer right away. If you don’t have an answer to a question, take time to understand the situation and speak to a product expert or manufacturer. 

  • Be transparent about how long it’ll take you to get back to your customer and politely ask for their contact details

  • Share your results or recommendations with the customer as soon as possible to keep their interest and trust

5. Handling angry customers 

No matter how great your product is, there'll always be an angry customer, and you need to be prepared for unpleasant interactions and support your employees with tried and tested mitigation strategies. 

Without strategies to manage angry or upset customers, you could spend valuable time and energy rationalizing with every person who simply called in to vent or entertaining user frustrations beyond your control. 

To effectively handle angry customers and improve customer satisfaction, you can: 

  • Hire and train skilled customer service professionals: investing your time in hiring excellent customer support reps and training them in-depth about company policies, practices, culture, and values leads to a positive customer service experience and helps eliminate customer anger. According to Salesforce, 78% of customers will overlook a company mistake after experiencing outstanding service. 

  • Promote empathy and level-headedness: part of training a great customer service team is ensuring they handle every customer interaction with grace, empathy, and professionalism. Teach your team to be proactive rather than reactive, and offer them company perks that help relieve the stress of their jobs, like spa treatments, therapy sessions, or gym memberships. 

  • Survey dissatisfied customers: use Hotjar Surveys to create and distribute Net Promoter Score® (NPS) or CSAT surveys, and ask customers to provide a reason for their low scores. Analyze these surveys to make product or website improvements, and use your previous scores to benchmark your progress.

#Hotjar CSAT Surveys give you actionable feedback on customer satisfaction.

Source: Hotjar
Hotjar CSAT Surveys give you actionable feedback on customer satisfaction. Source: Hotjar

6. Navigating service outages 

Anyone doing business online or working with software knows that service and technology malfunctions happen. But when customers rely on your software or product to accomplish their goals and solve problems, a service outage can negatively impact customer satisfaction—and quickly. 

To skillfully navigate service outages, the most important thing you can do is to keep customers informed. Here’s how: 

  • Reroute customer service complaints and calls specific to the outage to a specialized customer support team equipped with answers and timelines

  • Post service repair updates on your social media channels, send an email blast, and update your website to show customers you’re acknowledging and working on the problem

7. Creating an intuitive onboarding experience

The way you onboard users directly affects customer retention and satisfaction and can make or break a customer’s likelihood of adopting your product or using all the tools and features you have to offer.

An intuitive onboarding process guides users to understand and use your product with step-by-step instructions like tooltips, product guides, demos, and pop-ups. And it exposes customers to your product’s full value over a natural progression without distracting or overwhelming them with too much information. To create an intuitive onboarding experience:

  • Motivate users to reach their goals with tooltips, pro tips, pop-ups, and success banners. Walk them through specific steps, features, or functionalities as they use your product to build confidence and improve their product experience. 

  • Provide help centers, knowledge bases, or a learning center on your website where users can access self-service resources and guides on specific topics, features, or tools

  • Make your product immersive with dynamic videos, tutorials, and customer testimonials that demonstrate how various power users make the most out of it. Engage your customers with multimedia content throughout the onboarding process to spark interest in your product and promote adoption. 

  • Use chatbots or live chat software to answer frequently asked user questions or provide customers with additional resources to lessen their frustration and help find solutions

  • Inform your onboarding optimizations with user feedback: for example, after receiving feedback from a user wanting to track their team’s onboarding progress, a SaaS company might add a team progress section into their product offering that notifies users whenever a colleague discovers a new product feature or completes a step.

#Hotjar Feedback widgets let you gather valuable user feedback throughout the onboarding process.

Source: Hotjar
Hotjar Feedback widgets let you gather valuable user feedback throughout the onboarding process. Source: Hotjar

8. Aligning UX and UI teams

Strong website or product design doesn’t guarantee a great user experience, and too often, UX and UI teams run off with their unique product visions without first aligning their approaches.

And without collaboration between UX and UI design teams, your users will have a frustrating and confusing product experience that impedes customer satisfaction and product adoption. 

To align your UX and UI teams: 

  • Use internal communication systems like Google Docs or Slack, so your team members can communicate consistently and collaborate on design projects or details with ease

  • Invest in web app design templates that allow for multiple users or contributors

  • Experience the customer journey firsthand: have UX and UI teams go through the website, web app, app, or product they’re working on and spot potential problems or gaps in your user experience or design. Watch Hotjar Recordings of user sessions within your site or digital product to drive key UI and UX improvements. 

Overcome customer satisfaction challenges with user-backed insights 

How customers experience your product and their levels of satisfaction change constantly—so you need to measure customer satisfaction regularly and over time.

Truly understanding which improvements make sense—both for your customers and your business—helps you provide the most value for your users while staying true to your goals and overall strategy.

Whether it’s a quick fix or a long-term shift in customer satisfaction, collect quantitative and qualitative insights to make the right decisions for your product and users.

Want to increase customer satisfaction on your site or digital product?

Hotjar’s tools give you key insights about customer satisfaction and the reasons behind it—so you know exactly what to improve.

FAQs about customer satisfaction challenges and solutions