What Are Customer Touchpoints?

No matter what type of business, or industry you operate in, your customers will typically go through a series of steps and interactions during their customer journey with you. These customer touchpoints or points of contact will also impact your brand perception and customer experience.

So, it’s critical to make these steps seamless and as enjoyable as possible, if you’re to improve customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty. Identifying, mapping and optimising touchpoints are crucial to this process, and we will go onto discuss these in more detail. However, before we can do this, we need to explain exactly what we mean by customer touchpoints.

Customer touchpoints definition

Essentially customer touchpoints refer to the interactions that occur between your business and your customers throughout their customer journey. These interactions can occur before, during, or after a customer makes a purchase from your company.

Consider the example of a typical customer journey. An individual might initially read some reviews to check that you’re a reputable business, before shopping at your ecommerce or brick-and-mortar store, and then contacting your customer service team to report an issue. This is a simplified example, but it offers a picture of some likely touchpoints a customer can have with you.

Most customer journeys will be much longer than this, involving many more touchpoints. This is why it’s valuable to identify and then map your touchpoints, so you can optimise the experience for your customers at each stage.

The importance of customer journey touchpoint mapping

If you’re to create a seamless, enjoyable customer experience, throughout your customers’ journey with you, you need to be able to identify any pain points they might be currently experiencing. Customer touchpoint mapping will enable you to do this.

Mapping out your customer touchpoints can be a lengthy process, particularly if your customer journey is complex, but it’s important. While customers may love your products and the customer service experience you’re delivering, if your billing process is too complex, that could damage overall levels of customer satisfaction. And you can only fix these issues when you’re aware of them.

Mapping your customer touchpoints enables you to gain a better understanding of how each department in your business affects customer experience. This is vital if you’re to improve your overall levels of customer experience and ensure they are consistent everywhere.

Identifying your customer touchpoints

When it comes to your customer touchpoints, you need to think about and then create a list of all the times you believe a customer may come into contact with your business and brand. These touchpoints can vary quite considerably depending on the nature of your business and industry. For example, the touchpoints of a building supplies company are likely to look very different to a B2B SaaS company.

Having said that, the number of customer touchpoints have generally become much more diverse in recent decades, especially with the explosion in digital channels. So, identifying all your customer touchpoints must be the first step in creating a complete map of your customers’ journey from beginning to the end.

Some customer touchpoints to include

From online or in-person retail shopping touchpoints, to digital touchpoints via your website or social media, marketing touchpoints including sales emails, and much more. When you first begin thinking about your touchpoints, particularly if you’re a larger organisation, it can seem a bit overwhelming.

However, in addition to thinking about the touchpoints typically common to many businesses, it can help to break these touchpoints down into different stages of the customer journey such as before, during or post purchase.

Pre-purchase touchpoints

Any digital marketing content you publish

From your blog posts, videos, podcasts and infographic content to any web pages you publish to help promote your brand, products and services. Touchpoints such as those used as part of the sales and marketing funnel strategy, typically help you to warm up customers and lead them into making a purchase.

Online ads

Banner ads on a website or a search engine page, or paid posts on social media, are all touchpoints that try to raise awareness and move consumers to making a sale. Customers may see ads in multiple places before they decide to purchase. So, these ads need to provide a consistent and high-quality experience for those reading them.

Social media

While social media can be a touchpoint at any stage of the customer journey, it’s a very effective way of reaching out to customers before they’ve made a purchase. You can use it to raise awareness of your brand, build relationships with prospects and communicate your products and services.

Touchpoints during purchase

Product reviews

A large and growing area is online product reviews. It allows customers to check out reviews of your products from literally anywhere, even on their phones while they’re standing in an in-store shopping aisle. Many companies also include customer reviews on their ecommerce product listing page, so customers can find everything in one place easily. So, it’s good to be aware of this and always doing everything you can to provide the highest standards of product quality and support.

Conversations with company reps

While the digital experience continues to grow, customer conversations with real humans at your company is still an important part of the purchase process for many. In-person interaction with reps at your store is a particularly important touchpoint if you operate in the retail sector.

The point of sale or ecommerce transaction

This is your most crucial touchpoint. The online checkout or a customer’s physical interaction with your sales rep or cashier is where the deal is sealed.

While solid training of your sales reps can help maximise your sales, to optimise the performance of your online interactions you need to ensure that your website is compelling and free from bugs or frustrating pain points that might otherwise restrict customers. You also need to ensure that your shopping cart works effectively, and website visitors are seamlessly able to select, reserve and purchase a product or service from your ecommerce interface.

Post-sale touchpoints

Customer support channels

Your customer support channels are probably one of your most important touchpoints post purchase. This is because no matter how good the quality of your products, customers will experience problems at some point and need to be able to talk to a customer service rep. Having a bad experience at this point could put them off from making future purchases or lead them to communicate bad things about your brand to others.

Billing

Similarly, billing is also an essential touchpoint post-sale. Although not a channel loved by customers it can frequently be a source of pain if it’s not managed properly, potentially putting customers off making future purchases. Therefore, it’s essential not to neglect it and ensure you make your billing process as simple and seamless as possible.

Marketing emails

Your customer’s needs don’t just end once they’ve made a purchase. It could be that they could benefit from an additional product or service that you provide, that either complements their existing purchase or entitles them to a future upgrade. Your marketing team can use the touchpoints of cross-selling or upselling emails to encourage further purchases from them.

Customer feedback surveys

Another important touchpoint to consider is the customer survey. Knowing what your customers think about a new product or service, or what they think about a recent support experience is extremely valuable and essential to helping you improve. But this is only achievable through the feedback that a survey provides.

Creating a customer journey

Ultimately your customers purchase your products or services in order to fulfil a goal or desire. That’s why creating a customer journey map of the various touchpoints they need to go through in this process is so important.

Having identified and created a list of every single customer touchpoint, you’re ready to begin creating your customer journey map. At this stage, you’ll create a visual outline of all the steps a customer takes during their interaction with your business.

Each step should include a description of the action the customer takes, the goal they’re trying to achieve and the emotion they’re likely to be feeling as they go through these steps. You can divide these actions into customer lifecycle stages, similar to the following.

  • Discover
  • Explore
  • Buy
  • Use
  • Ask
  • Engage

Although some of these stages may look a bit different depending on your business type, listing lifecycle stages in this way, will help you to figure out which touchpoints happen when, and what they look like when they’re all put together to create a customer journey map.

Remember, this isn’t about the process from your side as a business. It’s all about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, and what the process of becoming and being a customer looks like in their eyes, which is extremely powerful.

Using touchpoint mapping to collect customer feedback

Once you’ve completed your customer journey map, you can start identifying your customer pain points. This is where customer surveys will be vital to your success.

Surveys leveraged across high-impact touchpoints help provide a clearer view of what needs to change to improve your customer journey. So, if you already have voice of the customer tools or a voice of the customer programme in place, this is the ideal time to put your surveys to use.

You’ll want to ensure each touchpoint results in a positive customer experience, which meets or exceeds expectations. And the best way to do this is to set up customer feedback surveys at each major touchpoint in your customer’s journey.

This could look like something similar to the following.

  • A post-checkout customer satisfaction questionnaire distributed by text or email
  • Pop up surveys located at strategic points around your website, to identify what customers like and don’t like about your website
  • A survey embedded into your customer service chatbot that asks customers to rate the help they have received

When it comes to your surveys, there’s an option for every touchpoint. But that doesn’t mean you should employ surveys with every touchpoint. In fact, if you over survey your customers, there’s a real danger of annoying them.

Instead, begin by focusing on what you believe to be your customers’ biggest pain points and fix them first. If you’re not sure where to begin, starting your survey with questions requesting open-ended feedback is a good place. Then if you ask your customers a question such as what is the one thing they’d change about your customer service, website, or purchase process, you’re likely to get some valuable direction about where you need to go for more detailed survey efforts.

Using touchpoints to optimise your customer experience

With your customer touchpoint map in place, you’re able to start fixing issues and optimise customer experience.

Looking through your feedback survey responses, you should start to see some clear pain point patterns in your customer touchpoints. With your customer journey map handy, you can begin to examine each experience in a touchpoint that might be causing friction and see what actions, emotions, and roles are involved. Could the problem be solved with better training for reps, more advanced technology, clearer communication, or a more proactive rather than reactive approach?

Having chosen what changes you want to make, don’t just set it and then leave it. You should keep surveying your customers about that touchpoint to see if the changes you have made have resulted in a positive improvement.

You also need to be collecting ongoing feedback about your customer touchpoints, at every stage of your customer lifecycle, if you’re to measure whether your changes are effective or need further tweaking. This is where the value of having a customer experience solution in place can pay real dividends.

By automating your customer feedback process with a solution of this kind it helps ensure you’re always alerted to your most critical feedback, so you can act on it in the speediest manner.

Ultimately, when you’re have a complete and timely solution in place to measure what your customers are feeling, you’ll be better able to understand them and take the actions you need to increase their satisfaction and improve your customer experience.

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