Understanding customer touchpoints—and why they matter
Customer touchpoints shape how consumers view your brand. That’s why mapping the customer touchpoint journey is so important for your business and the customers you serve.
Published February 1, 2022
Last updated February 1, 2022
Let's start with the basics: What is a customer touchpoint? To put it simply, a customer touchpoint is any time a consumer interacts with your brand, whether that’s through an employee, a website, an advertisement, or an app. And the experiences consumers have with those touchpoints can shape how they view your company.
A customer touchpoint is any time a consumer interacts with your brand, whether that’s through an employee, a website, an advertisement, or an app.
For example, say a customer sees an eco-friendly product advertised on social media. That is customer touchpoint No. 1 with that retail business. The customer clicks on the ad to buy the product and ends up on the brand’s ecommerce site, scrolling through lots of products they find interesting. That’s touchpoint No. 2. They purchase the product they came to buy and one other item (touchpoint No. 3), after which the brand sends them a thank you email (touchpoint No. 4) and asks them to sign up for a weekly sales email (touchpoint No. 5), and so on. Each customer touchpoint is an opportunity for a brand to woo a customer with a great customer experience that will gradually transform them from a potential customer to a loyal customer.
Each customer touchpoint is an opportunity for a brand to woo a customer with a great customer experience.
In some ways, customer touchpoints work a lot like any new relationship. When two people date, the first time they see each other and every subsequent conversation and date either leads to a deepening of the relationship or a departure point. Each time two new friends hang out and share experiences, it informs whether they’ll choose each other for their next adventure or not. A customer touchpoint is the same—you want to make sure that customer has a great experience so they want to “see” you again.
What are your customer touchpoints?
Customer touchpoints go beyond customer service and are different for every company. If you have a retail business, for example, your buyer’s journey might include touchpoints such as an advertisement, a visit to a website where they’re directed through a sales funnel, a visit to a store where there’s a human interaction, and so forth. If you offer SaaS products, your touchpoints might be an ad, your marketing team, a sales rep, an onboarding team, and your technical support team. In any case, your touchpoint map should include customer support and customer feedback.
Your touchpoint map should include customer support and customer feedback.
It’s important to be creative and know what you hope to accomplish with your consumer touchpoints so you’re fostering a specific relationship with the customer and not just contacting them at random. Going back to the dating analogy, enough contact is essential; too much and you start to seem kind of needy. Here are some examples of types of customer touchpoints.
Customer journey touchpoints
A customer journey is more than a series of touchpoints. In fact, one company realised that its multiple touchpoints were receiving at least a 90% positive customer satisfaction rating, yet customers were still leaving the brand. Part of the problem was the company’s lack of customer touchpoint mapping, which kept the underlying cause hidden. Once it began mapping out its touchpoints, the company discovered that it wasn’t onboarding customers to its technology well, so customers had to do a lot of work to make their interaction with the technology successful. Sales was only focused on making the sale, and technical support directed its efforts to solving specific problems brought forth by customers. No one focused on finding the best solution for the customer in terms of features, prices, integration, etc. The company wasn’t thinking in terms of journey mapping the entire customer experience. Rather than solely rely on obvious touchpoints, brands need to journey map customer engagement and identify every single touchpoint. That process reveals whether the touchpoints actually add up to a positive experience or whether they’re just a lot of pleasant interactions that at best waste a customer’s time and at worst drive them away. Brands can use this understanding to address customer journey mapping from the consumer standpoint, leading them to products and services they may really appreciate. Companies might create a customer journey map that begins with:
- Asking an existing customer to sign up for a sales sheet or newsletter
- Reaching out to an existing customer and offering them a discount program on a subscription model or after a certain number of purchases
- Offering a customer a discount to provide customer feedback or take a survey about other products and services you offer that they may be interested in
This could include offering recipes that can be made with the cooking implement you just sold the customer or providing a summer travel plan for a mobile service customer.
Every use of your app or interaction with your website is a digital touchpoint. It’s crucial that these touchpoints be intuitive and attractive. But digital touchpoints offer much more opportunity than that single interaction. Digital transformation empowers you to convert your “family sedan” customer experience into a Ferrari. With the right customer touchpoints and a robust system of data collection and sharing, you can use touchpoints to paint a complete picture of the customer. One main goal of digital transformation is that you can collect so much data on the customer and their interactions that you can understand them deeply and anticipate their needs. Returning to the dating analogy again—if you’re not getting to know someone better each time you go out with them, they probably won’t feel very invested in the relationship, either.
You can use touchpoints to paint a complete picture of the customer.
If the business is a bank, for example, and the customer goes online to transfer funds but then checks out the mortgage calculator or auto loan rates, that data should be used to create a customer journey with touchpoints around mortgages or car loans. It’s not necessarily doing a hard sell, but it could be sending them an email about auto loans, a link to an article about how to get the best price on a new car at a dealership, or something similar. You do want to stay top of mind through these touchpoints, but you don’t want to bother the customer or convey desperation. The point is to show you’re there for them. One great way to offer enough touchpoints—but not too many—is to allow the customer to fill out a brief customer satisfaction survey asking what kinds of contact methods and offers they’re interested in. Letting people opt out of spam is not only legally required, but it also shows the customer respect and lets them be in control of their own experience. You can offer this survey when you send an email to thank them for their first purchase and ask them for customer feedback, letting them know the relationship is in their hands. By taking a thoughtful and clear-eyed approach to identifying and curating each customer journey touchpoint, your brand will make meaningful connections with each prospective buyer, which will lead to what all businesses want: customer loyalty.