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How do I add Customer Pains to my Value Proposition Canvas?

Pains describe anything that annoys your customers before, during, and after getting a job done. This could be undesired costs and situations, negative emotions, or risks. Pains can be functional (a solution doesn’t work), social (I’ll look bad doing this), emotional (I feel bad every time I do this), or ancillary (it’s annoying to go to the store for this).


A customer pain can be severe or light to the customer, similar to how jobs can be crucial or trivial to the customer.

Questions to ask

The following list of trigger questions can help you think of different potential customer pains:

  • What does your customer find too costly? E.g. does it take them a lot of time, cost them too much money, or require substantial efforts?
  • What makes your customer feel bad? E.g. what are their frustrations, annoyances, or the things that give them a headache?
  • How are current solutions underperforming for your customer? E.g. which features are they missing, are there performance issues that annoy them, or malfunctions they mention?
  • What are the main difficulties and challenges your customers encounter? E.g. do they understand how things work, do they have difficulties getting certain things done, or do they resist certain jobs for specific reasons?
  • What negative social consequences do your customers encounter or fear? E.g. Are they afraid of a loss of face, power, trust, or status?
  • What risks do your customers fear? E.g. Are they afraid of financial, social, or technical risks, or are they asking themselves what could go awfully wrong?
  • What’s keeping your customer awake at night? E.g. What are their big issues, concerns, and worries?
  • What common mistakes do your customers make? E.g. Are they using a solution the wrong way?
  • What are barriers keeping your customers from adopting a solution? E.g. Are there upfront investment costs, a steep learning curve, or are there other obstacles preventing adoption?

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