Touchpoints are an essential to understanding your customer's journey (if you're ready, here's a complete guide to customer journey mapping we made).
66% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. And it makes sense given 86% of buyers will pay more for a great experience.
Great customer experiences require a lot of attention to detail at every stage of interaction with the customer. So in this guide, we will not only go through the basics and why touchpoints are so important, we'll also walk you through how you can do a customer feedback analysis that breaks into a touchpoint analysis.
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.
We recently answered this question on our LinkedIn page (follow us there for regular education like this):
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.
It sounds like business jargon, and it is! The reality is that a touch point is simply anytime you encounter a company. For example, you may be using an Apple computer right now. The computer itself is a touch point with Apple as a company.
Usually, businesses want to understand their ‘touchpoints’ because each one is responsible for how much money a customer spends and how frequently. For an airline, for example, the touchpoints include everything from the ticket, the signs in the airport, the agent at the gate, the seat, the flight attendant, and the onboard magazine. Each one of these points changes your expectations, emotions and feeling toward that airline.
If a customer touchpoint is a singular unit, a touchpoint map is an inventory of those touchpoints. A touchpoint map should not be confused with a customer journey or journey map.
A journey map is done on a very specific point: one touchpoint or a transition from one touchpoint to the next.
In a customer journey map, we choose an interaction like calling customer service. We then map the steps the customer must take from the moment of need through to the moment of completing or fulfilling that need. A journey map contains what the customer is doing or thinking or feeling.
A customer journey can be many, many parts of their interaction with your brand. As stated above, the customer journey map is “the steps the customer must take from the moment of need through to the moment of completing or fulfilling that need.”
We could apply this to many needs a customer has with your company. Whether they’re filling out a form, trying to make a purchase, or wanting to learn how do something new with your product.
If we pick trying to make a purchase, the stages might include: visiting your website, browsing for products, making a search, adding to basket, entering payment details, the confirmation email, and so on.
Typical 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.
In the example pictured below, we’ve used the SentiSum customer insights platform to identify touchpoints and understand how customers feel about each one. We’ve found that in the last six months, 297 customers mention ‘tracking of orders’.
This is a great example of a customer touchpoint. For an eCommerce brand who sends parcels to their customers, the parcel tracking (a host of touchpoints) really makes a difference to reassure customers it’s on the way.
In this example, 91% of customers mentioned “tracking of orders” in a positive way. Phew. If we dig one step deeper, we can see that it was ‘communication’ that mattered so much to customers. They were happy at each communication touchpoint, these could be:
(1) When the customer receives an SMS saying their order is out for delivery.
(2) When the customer receives a confirmation email that sets their expectations for arrival time.
(3) The phone call update to let the customer know the driver is going to be late.
Moving to another industry: fashion. The clothing industry, in particular, felt the pain of this COVID-19 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 touchpoint map in this image has been largely simplified to pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase.
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
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.
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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.
Most businesses have one main goal: maximizing profit (we’d also like to add a second goal: making the world a better place). Profit is made up of two parts: revenue minus cost. Every customer touchpoint will have an impact on these two parts, optimizing the touchpoint, therefore, will help businesses hit their goal.
A particularly important online touchpoint is your website. Most businesses will optimize their website depending on their own needs, for example, a software business may optimize their website so that visitors click to buy the product or sign up for a trial. A supermarket may optimize their website for easy ‘find what you want and check out’.
Either way, the more optimized every touchpoint is, the easier it will be for your customer to take the action you want them to take. Ultimately, this will help you hit your goals as a business.
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 directed there.
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.
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?
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.
Collect data to build out your knowledge of each customer touchpoint. Interview your customers and collect feedback to understand how your customers 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 your company uses a help desk like Zendesk, check out our guide for manual customer support ticket analysis.
However, if you don’t have time for manual analysis, we suggest using a voice of the customer tool like SentiSum. You’ll work with the SentiSum team to automate the tagging of every support ticket, survey and review across your company, which will make identifying and analyzing touchpoints simple.
Whatever method you use, it’s important than by the end you know:
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 outcomes you're likely to get buy-in from more company stakeholders.
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.
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.
In our view, actionable customer insights have these characteristics:
Brand contact point is just another name for a customer touchpoint. There needs to be no more explanation than: a brand contact point is a potential point of interaction between a customer (in whatever lifecycle stage they’re in) and your company.
Brand touchpoint is just another name for a customer touchpoint or brand contact point. There needs to be no more explanation than: a brand touchpoint is a potential point of interaction between a customer (in whatever lifecycle stage they’re in) and your company
Taking again the example of calling customer service. The touchpoints in this customer journey are the automated questions, the agent, the post-call follow up, the chatbot used, and so on.
We’ve just defined this question above. Touchpoints in customer experience are the exact same thing people are talking abut when they say ‘customer touchpoints’. Customer experience professionals typically want to make every touchpoint (especially those causing customer churn or preventing customer acquisition) the best it can be.
Customer journey mapping is a way of creating a visual representation of the experience your customers go through when trying to achieve a goal with your brand, product or service.
It's a bit like graph, which you use to make data easier to understand and digest. Likewise, the customer journey map makes your customer's experience easy to understand and easy to digest for people across your company.
A 'customer journey map' is usually an Excel document that outlines key events, motivations, customer satisfaction and experience scores at each touchpoint, which is ultimately presented as something that can be a resource for the wider organisation to use.
Read our complete guide to customer journey mapping here.