Here’s a fascinating fact…..when Apple became frustrated that some of its’ retail partners were not doing a good enough job creating the ‘Mac Experience’ for Apple PC customers, they decided to open up their own stores and take control of what they wanted their customers to see/hear/feel……which was considered at the time to be a terrible move – a tech company moving into retail – CRAZY!
However, Apple are now considered to be a customer experience retail benchmark for others to live up to, and a major reason why Apple has seen such growth and incredible loyalty for their brand – they took control of their most important customer touchpoint….
So, should every business invest in their key customer touchpoints in such grandiose fashion?
Of course, not – however it’s definitely time for us all to completely understand our own customer touchpoints and make informed decisions about how we want to appear to our customers – especially now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically altered the way we’re all working, and it has also affected customer behaviour and expectations – and that will last long into the future and maybe forever. During this period, some companies have been overwhelmed with business increases we could never have imagined, while some have experienced near shut-down – and it’s true to say that whichever side of the fence your business falls, it’s likely you’ve had to change (or pivot!) – and fast – but have you noticed that the way your customers interact with your brand or service will have changed too?
So, what is a customer touchpoint and what should I do about them?
A customer touchpoint is generally considered to be any interaction point between your customer and your brand/service.
When you consider your customer touchpoints, you should usually think about them as divided into three main areas
- Awareness (or discovery)
- Evaluation (researching & making the purchase)
- Post Purchase (after the sales, enquiries, and ongoing communication)
It’s so important that you can identify the many and varied ways your customers come in to contact with your business, products or services so you can ensure they are as you want or need them to be. After all, if you’re a retailer you wouldn’t forget to check your store window looks great – so make sure all your other touchpoints have the same impact – otherwise you risk ‘customer leak’. Your touchpoints could be a combination of:
- Website – look, feel and ease of use
- Calls to your business – answer phone message, speed of response, call handler approach
- Incoming emails – automated response, follow up, consistency of responder
- Customer review sites – Trustpilot, Trip Advisor
- 3rd parties that stock your products – retailers, other websites
- Virtual sellers – Amazon, eBay
- Personal recommendation – what are your existing customers saying about you?
- Expo sites and printed collateral – leaflets, stands, promotional sites
- Social Media – who checks, who posts, who responds, how consistent is it?
So – it’s not just when you speak to a customer right?
When you really understand the reach of your touchpoints, it’s about finding out if each of these are presenting your business, products or services in the way you want them to.
When you can clearly see where all your customer touchpoints are – and you’re able to look at them through THEIR lens and not yours, you can begin to identify which are strengths for your business, and which may be causing you harm, or costing you money unnecessarily
For example – you may find that the particular touchpoints associated with awareness and discovery (e.g. website, customer reviews, etc) are very strong for you. However, if your post purchase touchpoints are not so strong, are you unnecessarily ‘leaking’ customers after you’ve done all the hard work to attract them in the first place – ask yourself how you are engaging with them and keeping them interested in you?
We all know that existing and repeat customers are much more profitable that constantly having to attract new ones!
Channels v touchpoints
Another potential trap is to simply confuse customer touchpoints with “business channels” – here are some examples of business channels:
|Business touchpoints (channel based)|
|We have a website|
|We use direct mail / leaflets / email information|
|We provide pay Points|
|We answer the phone have a call centre|
|We send newsletters|
|We provide loyalty schemes|
|We design promotional offers|
|We follow up sales with an aftersales call|
|We have a service recovery department|
Business channels are most definitely legitimate ways to create your customer strategy – but remember, they are the decisions YOU have made and not necessarily what the CUSTOMER is looking for – they are often the ‘WHATS’ without the ‘HOWS’…
So – if you want to ensure you’re presenting your ‘best face’ to your customers consistently, make sure you review how effective each touchpoint is – and review whether there are alternative touchpoints to the ones YOU have created as business channels.
Here’s some ‘get started’ tips…
Identify which touchpoints you’re in control of, and which you’re not e.g. anything ‘outsourced’ (like external review sites) versus in-house activities
Check touchpoints in your control – review and align them – here’s some ideas:
- Do you meet the needs of the customer depending on the way the customer interacts with you – e.g. Twitter customer contact generally requires immediate response whereas a response to an email is expected to be longer and personalised.
- Do all your touchpoints have a consistent ‘tone of voice’, regardless of the reason the customer is ‘meeting’ you…e.g. do you respond to sales enquiries in the same way as you do to customer complaints?
- Is each touchpoint response relevant to the customers reason for using it? E.g. do you use the same response process regardless of the reason customers are reaching out? E.g. social media enquiries v social media posts?
- Does each touchpoint have a ‘difference’ throughout – should you adapt internal processes to meet customer needs better?
- Overall – do they make your business one that is easy to do business with?
Check out your reviews/ratings on external feedback sites
- Respond publicly to reviews good or bad
- Be bold about publishing changes and improvements resulting from feedback
- Ultimately – show you value the business/customer partnership
And – here are some other aspects to consider when reviewing your customer touchpoints:
- Are they addressing your customer needs – or creating another ‘business channel’
- Have YOU ever tested the flow of information – incoming or outgoing – where are the gaps or hurdles?
- Are you able to ‘invent’ any new touchpoints (the Apple example)?
- And – overall, do your touchpoints provide your business with its USP?
There are millions of services and products that all meet similar needs – so why should a customer choose you?
The reality is you can never make that final decision – however, by reviewing the many and varied lenses through which your customers see, hear, feel, and touch you, you can ensure you appear exactly how you want to – attract the customer who will value what you’ve got – and enjoy long lasting relationships with ALL your existing and potential customers.