What is a Touchpoint?
According to Wikipedia, the definition of a touchpoint is:
Touchpoint (also touch point, contact point, point of contact) is business jargon for any encounter where customers and business engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions.
Well Wikipedia… you’re kind of right. But I want to clarify a few points:
A Touchpoint in Terms of Customer Experience is So Much More
In terms of Customer Experience, touchpoints are more than just transactional moments. They’re critical interactions within the customer journey that help define key moments in the process.
But customer touchpoints are often misunderstood for what they really are, or go unappreciated from the customer’s perspective.
And therein lies the problem.
Customer Touchpoint is NOT Just Business Jargon
The concept of customer touchpoints is more than just business jargon!
The problem is that touchpoints are meaningful only if and when the company understands them — and without understanding, sure — the term touchpoint may as well be meaningless business jargon.
If touchpoint seems like business jargon to you, it’s not because you lack some ability to understand it. You probably just haven’t been taught the concepts in a way that’s best for you.
Understanding your customers’ current situations, and what drives them toward loyalty or defection, is the first step in delivering a superior customer experience. Understanding the actual touchpoints your customers have with your organization is a basic part of that understanding.Understanding your customers' current situations, and what drives them toward loyalty or defection, is the first step in delivering a superior customer experience. Click To Tweet
Channels are Not Touchpoints.
Channels are a way for you to understand where customers come from and how they interact with you, the company. Touchpoints are more precise and specific.
For example, Online could be a channel. Online chat could be a touchpoint.
Don’t Be Like Most Organizations.
Most organizations, when defining their customer touchpoints, list things like:
- Direct Mail
- Web Sites
- In-Store Cashiers
- Welcome Letter/Customer Communications
- Customer Service Call Centers
The challenge with viewing touchpoints this way is this approach often assumes the customer:
- Has been in a linear and direct relationship with the organization and
- Reads and engages with these touchpoints in meaningful ways.
In short, an examination of touchpoints is often entirely company-focused. (Sometimes, it is so company-focused the touchpoints are categorized by org chart: marketing; operations; billing, etc.)
Instead, I challenge you to take an inventory of customer touchpoints from the customer perspective.
A Fictitious Example of a Customer-Focused Touchpoint Inventory:
- I have a need, and look up a service online. <- search, site, mobile
- I select this company. <- Why? A great online demo? Excellent Yelp reviews?
- I use online chat to engage.
- I start the relationship. <- What does that first charge look like on the credit card bill? Does it make sense to the customer?
- I have a problem and look for customer service. <- Where? How? Online? Via an 800 number? How am I treated when I call? How many transfers does it take to solve my problem?
- I want to stop being a customer. <- How do I cancel?
Of course this is a simplified version of what it takes to identify meaningful touchpoints.
Other considerations should include who your customers actually are, what channels are most popular, and other data points.Most organizations poorly define customer touchpoints. Don't be like most organizations. I challenge you to take an touchpoint inventory from a customer perspective instead. Click To Tweet
Where Do We Go From Here?
Taking a comprehensive and thorough inventory of your touchpoints can be extremely challenging. It can take months to categorize all the ways customers may interact with you.
But it’s worth it, and here’s why: If you organize your touchpoints (the customer perspective) against your channel strategy (your company perspective), you can have a clear vision for where your priorities should lie.
It becomes obvious that while your online channel is working pretty well, your in-store experience is suffering due to lack of care.
By creating a customer-centric vision for the future, you can continue to track what is working for your customers and what simply isn’t.
Experiences are evolving rapidly today, and it’s easy to be left behind. Understanding your customer touchpoints could help you stay ahead in meaningful ways.