If you ask a business to name customer touchpoints, they will probably list things like customer service call centers, web sites, and billboards. What would happen if you asked a customer about their touchpoints with a business? They might say things like they did a web search to fulfill a need, they needed clarification before they used online chat, or they had a problem and looked for customer service. While a touchpoint is any interaction point between the customer and your brand, it’s important not to get touchpoint confused with channels. For example, while online could be a channel, an online chat could be a touchpoint.
Touchpoints are also more than just transactional moments; they are critical interactions within the customer journey that ultimately leads to loyalty or defection. It usually takes a number of touchpoints for a customer to progress down the buyer’s journey. The customer needs to be nurtured, trust you, and finally try what you have to offer. The potential for customer touchpoint is greater than ever before, and that makes it essential for businesses to take a comprehensive and thorough inventory of their customer’s touchpoints. Companies can improve their customer experience by understanding the different types of touchpoints and making sure you don’t miss any critical customer touchpoints.
Types of Touchpoints
Touchpoints generally fall into four different categories:
- Intrinsic touchpoints
- Company-created touchpoints
- Customer-initiated touchpoints
- Unexpected touchpoints
Intrinsic touchpoints are touchpoints that are experienced while purchasing or using the company’s product. Products could include the hardware, software, or service that a company offers. Intrinsic touchpoints could occur in-person, such as in a store or office, on the phone, or online.
Company-created touchpoints can also be thought of as messages. These messages are one-way communications that include a company’s website, social media, advertising, packaging, manuals, and branding. Messages establish the brand voice and work to explain products to a user.
Customer-initiated touchpoints occur when a customer contacts the business, whether by phone, email, or even in person.
Unexpected touchpoints are any touchpoints that can’t be directly controlled by the company. These can occur anywhere that the product is seen or used, like a retail store or a friend’s house. Unexpected touchpoints include personal, word of mouth communication.
Using Touchpoints for an Excellent Customer Experience
In order for businesses to create a better experience for customers, they need to develop a customer-centric approach to touchpoints. This means breaking down the customer experience into distinct moments from the customer’s point of view and mapping out your customer journey. Identify the touchpoints customers are already using, and then understand how they navigate across the touchpoints as they move through the journey. Anticipate the customer’s needs, expectations, and motivations during each part of the journey.
Once you have mapped out your customer journey, you can identify what is working and what isn’t. Then you can start work on creating a set of critical touchpoints that will allow you to focus and have a better impact on your customers’ perceptions.
The key to providing an excellent customer experience is coordinating and integrating the touchpoints along the customer journey. Each type of touchpoint should support the others for each stage of the journey.
Make sure all of your touchpoints:
- Use the same tone, message, and even the same words. Make sure your brand is being communicated effectively and consistently.
- Differentiate you from your competitors
- Address the needs of your customers
- Answer your customers’ questions.
Being consistent across your touchpoints goes a long way in building trust with customers and ultimately providing an excellent customer experience. When you take the time and effort to coordinate your touchpoints, customers begin to know what to expect from your business in any interaction. Touchpoints happen across departments at a company, from the web team to the sales team, and many more in between. In order to create integrated customer touchpoints, it’s essential for all the different parts of a company to work together and align their messages. Companies that effectively integrate their touchpoints will be rewarded with a superior customer experience.
Providing excellent support at each customer touchpoint is critical to every company’s success. At Safeguard, we are here for you with solutions to help you manage and market your business. See how personal attention from your advisor can help you build a path to success. Contact us today to get started.