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In 2020, customer touchpoints have never been so important.
66% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. And it makes sense given 86% of buyers will pay more for a great customer experience.
Great customer experiences require a lot of attention to detail at every stage of the customer journey. So in this guide, we will not only go through the basics and why touchpoints are so important, we'll also hint at how you can start a touchpoint assessment.
Whether you're a newbie or an industry expert looking to brush up on the finer points, this guide is for anyone looking to understand touchpoints in detail.
We'll start with a run through of the foundations of customer touchpoints.
What are customer touchpoints?
"A touchpoint is any interaction (including encounters where there is no physical interaction) that might alter the way that your customer feels about your product, brand, business or service." - a universal touchpoint definition.
Customer journey definition
"A customer journey is like a roadmap that shows every interaction with your brand pre-awareness through to post-purchase. It's the sum of customer touchpoints and documents the full experience of the customer."
A channel is the location of an interaction between a customer and a business. It's where the touchpoint is located.
Customer touchpoint examples
Typical direct customer touch points for most businesses include an element of bricks and mortar, a website, a call centre, post, email, customer service/support and sales.
These touch points can then be multiplied by the number of indirect touch points such as social media, written and other media content, marketing, indirect partner channels, third party review sites, market research, 3rd party industry regulators, the list goes on.
The clothing industry in particular felt the pain of this year's pandemic. Their touchpoints were both physical and digital, and the digital portion dropped off the map almost entirely. Here's a list of touchpoints aligned with a customer journey map.
Here's a more general list of brand touchpoints. The journey map in this image has been largely simplified to pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase.
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Customer journey touchpoints
The pre-purchase touchpoints
The pre-purchase touchpoints are often described as producing unknown results. They are defined as all the moments of contact a potential customer has with a business before they interact with the business themselves. Even though their individual effects on customers can not be translated into data all the time, they are still a valuable part of the customer journey.
There are plenty of different forms that a pre purchase touchpoint can take, for example:
- Social Media Adverts
- Social Media Posts
- Displayed Advertising on Websites
- Word of Mouth
- Employee Generated Content
- Content Sponsorship
Knowing which of those touchpoints are the most significant to you and leveraging their influence is an essential part in crafting a good customer experience. Search engines are often a key part of the customer journey. If your website is SEO optimised you can answer specific queries potential customers might have, adding value to them before they know who you are. There's a ton of SEO tools out there that can help you focus your content on pre-purchase customer queries.
The purchase touchpoints
The purchase touchpoints are all the interactions the customer has with the business whilst they are purchasing the advertised service.
Years ago, the main touchpoint of this most likely took the form of physically going into the shop to make a purchase. However now there is much more to consider in terms of purchase touchpoints, for example:
- Sales Team
- Customer Service Team
- Physical Store
- Through distributors or retailers
Ensuring that the experience customers have at this point is vital a good way to increase the likelihood that this customer will become a customer for life. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer, hence it is in the best interest for a business to ensure that this part of the customer journey is as smooth as possible.
The post-purchase touchpoint
Assuming that the customer journey is over once they have made their purchase is a mistake that can cost businesses time and money. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
Here are a few examples of post-purchase touchpoints:
- Social Media (Making sure that you don't forget about your existing customers on your social media is crucial if you want to create a community around your business)
- Customer Service
- Loyalty Programs
Customer Journeys are becoming more varied and complex due to the increasing number of touchpoints. For a business with the desire to improve their customer satisfaction they need to be aware now more than ever of what their touchpoints are and whether they are aiding their businesses or not.
Why are touchpoints important in the customer journey?
The most important thing about touchpoints is that they are where people form opinions about your company.
Often a customer interacts with your brand 20 times before they purchase. Each one of those leaves an impression. And each one is an opportunity to leave a favourable impression that ultimately leads to a sale.
Effectively monitoring and perfecting your touchpoints is now a competitive act. They create the opportunity to win a customer from a competitor, retain more loyal customers, and to influence purchase consideration.
The link between customer satisfaction is why managing touchpoints is so important. But it's also why a large number of customer journey touchpoints makes CSAT so complex. Feedback on every single one needs to be monitored, no easy feat at scale.
Touchpoints are even more important in 2021
2021 is a new era of customer-centricity. More than 66% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. Showing that customers want to be 'Wow!'d by their interaction with your brand.
Successful businesses in the next decade will focus on innovating across multiple touchpoints.
Winning the tech-savvy customer will require the building of a brand story at each touchpoint and then weaving them together.
Contagious loyalty and brand advocacy come from authenticity and trust at every point in the customer journey. So it's essential businesses know which touchpoints are letting them down or causing mistrust so that time and effort can be direct there.
5 stages: How to do a customer touchpoint analysis
Managing your customer experience is an ongoing process, and one that is a team effort. If CX is not a cross-functional effort, you risk inefficiency, siloed customer insight and doing double the work.
The first thing you need to know about customer touchpoint analysis is that they're never complete. Customer expectations change over time and you must evolve with them.
Once we're clear on that, you can begin an assessment.
Stage 1: Planning your touchpoint analysis
Get ready for customer touchpoint analysis by doing preparation and planning. Identify which personas you want to analyse the touchpoints for, outline your objectives, and plan your research methods. Will you be interviewing customers? Running a workshop with internal stakeholders? Gathering touchpoint data manually or using software?
Stage 2: Measuring touchpoint baseline
Map each customer touchpoint you know using the templates above. Identify every touchpoint a customer interacts with pre-purchase through to purchase, lay it out using an online platform or on a whiteboard.
Stage 3: Gather & analyse customer feedback data
Collect data to build out your knowledge of each customer touchpoint. Interview your customers and collect feedback to understand how your customer's feel at each touchpoint.
If you're planning on using surveys to gather data, make sure they don't suck. If the output of your surveys isn't actionable (unbiased, statistically significant and insightful) then they're a waste of time. Here's our view on what makes great customer feedback surveys.
There are plenty of other ways to gather feedback. If you companies uses a help desk like Zendesk, check out our guide for manual customer support ticket analysis.
It's important than by the end you know:
- Which touchpoints are causing customer friction.
- Which of that customer friction actually matters. Not all friction is equal, some make customers churn instantly, others are small annoyances. Tie pain to revenue.
- How many customers are affected by the friction point.
Stage 4: Take action on your touchpoint improvement plan
Develop a plan that revolves around your findings from stage three.
Low hanging fruit are a great place to start. Ask yourself, which problems are having a large impact on customers but are easy to solve?
The rest of your plan should focus on eliminating or improving underperforming touchpoints. The ones that are most important to your customer should be prioritised.
You cannot do this alone, so it's important to articulate your plan clearly and back it up with evidence. Always try to speak the language of the business: growth. If you can tie your proposals to revenue outcomesl you're likely to get buy-in from more company stakeholders.
Create a single source of truth. The goal for all businesses needs to be a single source of customer truth. This will be the place where all customer feedback from all channels, direct and indirect, can be connected to provide a dynamic and real-time customer journey satisfaction view.
Stage 5: Measure improvements made to each touchpoint
From your baseline measurements, you'll want to track movement in CSAT, NPS and CPO that resulted from your projects. KPIs like lifetime value of the customer and retention rates should also be measured and linked back to change.
What makes customer feedback actionable?
In our view, useful data has these characteristics:
- Detailed enough that you understand the root of the problem.
- Unbiased data; collected in a way that does lend itself to falsehoods.
- Data that is fresh. As discussed, customer expectations evolve rapidly. If data collection was done months ago then a problem may have evolved making the change you make potentially damaging.
- Clear ability to prioritise. Qualitative data lone struggles here. How do you know which problems are more important? Which issue at each customer journey touchpoint should you focus on first? Consider quantifying through volume of topic mentions or manually assigning a severity number. This way you know what is driving customer complaints the most.
- Highly accessible. We've seen siloed data time and time again and it must stop. If you conducted a customer touchpoint analysis, the relevant team must know before they can work with you to reduce negative sentiment at their touchpoint. At SentiSum, we've built a daily digest feature so every day all users can have their finger on the pulse of customer complaints. Accessibility like this ensures your organisation is aligned around your customer's true expectations.
Mapping sentiment to touchpoint
Here's a customer journey map populate automatically by our old platform. We took all the customer feedback across multiple touchpoints and channels and analysed it automatically to provide a single view of customer truth.
Using support ticket analytics, you can gather data on individual touchpoints within the larger buckets noted above. Support tickets are a fast way to get granularity, rather than launching a new survey you can make use of data you already have available in log history.