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Customer Touch Points

Customer touchpoints are any point of contact between a business and a customer, be it an email, call centre, via a company website, etc.

Customer touchpoints are your brand’s points of customer contact, from start to finish. For example, customers may find your business online or in an ad, see ratings and reviews, visit your website, shop at your retail store, or contact your customer service.

This doesn’t have to be directly instigated by the business. For instance, advertisements or third-party review sites are a form of 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.” An example of an encounter with no physical interaction might be discovering an online review of your product. This definition is based on the one proposed by Laura Patterson, the President of VisionEdge Marketing.

A channel is where an interaction takes place. It might be via mail (if you send out a flyer or letter), it might be in the media (advertising), online (on your site or indeed on someone else’s site), physically (at a bricks and mortar location), etc.

If we want to improve interactions with our customers the key starting point is to understand what those interactions are and where they take place. Without that understanding it would be impossible to measure any improvements or indeed to see if changes made to those interactions were having a detrimental (rather than positive effect).

Designers can design interactions, at least those within our control, and to be able to do so they will need to understand what need is driving the interaction and where and when the interaction takes place. This is clear in the differences in designing for desktop and mobile applications, for example, we know that there is a higher risk of a mobile user being distracted regularly whilst working on an application than there is for a desktop user. Thus interactions on mobile need to be recoverable (e.g. the user can return and pick up where they left off) more so than desktop interactions need to be.

Touchpoints should provide a customer with the following interaction types:

  • Appropriate (e.g. that both the context of the interaction and the cultural tone of the interaction meet the needs of the customer or user)
  • Relevant (e.g. that the function performed by the interaction meets the utility requirements of the customer or user)
  • Meaningful (e.g. that the interaction was perceived as important or purposeful by the customer or user)
  • Endearing (e.g. that the interaction created some form of bond with the user or customer for example through desirability, creating delight or a playful tone)

Finding your customer touchpoints

Identify your customer touchpoints by making a list of all the places and times your customers might come into contact with your brand. We’ve put together a list of touchpoints here, but it can vary a lot depending on your business.

Before purchase During purchase After purchase
Social media Store or office Billing
Ratings and reviews Website Transactional emails
Testimonials Catalog Marketing emails
Word of mouth Promotions Service and support teams
Community involvement Staff or sales team Online help center
Advertising Phone system Follow ups
Marketing/PR Point of sale Thank you, cards,

Touch Points Before a Purchase

Online Advertisement

Have you ever noticed banner ads displayed at the top or sidebar of a webpage? Those are touch points that link leads back to your website. For some brands, like the ones below, it’s an effective way to draw traffic to their site.

Digital Marketing Content

Aside from ads, digital marketing content refers to any material that your company publishes online to promote its brand. This could be promotional videos, infographics, or an engaging blog post — like the one you’re reading right now.

Social Media

Social media could be included in every section of this list. However, where it’s mostly used is in customer acquisition. That’s because social media is a cost-effective way of reaching a large portion of your target audience. You can use it to promote products, build relationships with clients, and enhance the overall reputation of your brand.

Peer Referral

It’s no secret that customers trust their peers over your advertisements. But, it’s not exactly a close race. 83% of customers say that their friends and family are their most trusted sources of referrals. This makes it imperative for businesses to focus on word-of-mouth marketing if they want to be seen as trustworthy.

Touch Points During a Purchase

Conversations With Company Representatives

The most direct point of contact you have with customers is your in-person interactions. These conversations that take place in your stores have an immediate impact on the customer’s purchase decision.

Point of Sale

This is the last touch point your customers will reach before making a purchase. That’s because this is where your sales rep makes their case for why the customer needs your product. For many businesses, this is a momentous step in the customer journey.

Company Events

If you’re on a marketing or sales team, then you may have attended a conference this year where you stood in a booth to promote your company. These events are an excellent way to introduce your brand to customers who may not be aware of it.

One example of an event like this is Inbound, where companies from around the world meet to discuss marketing, sales, customer service, and other business topics. It’s a great chance for business leaders to connect with new partners and discover strategies that can help their organizations grow.

Product Catalogs

Whether they’re online or a hard copy, catalogs are an excellent medium for showcasing your product line. An image of the product, coupled with an enticing description, gives the customer everything they need to know before making a purchase.

Ecommerce

For many businesses, ecommerce is the most effective way to acquire customers and close deals. That’s because websites can be accessed globally, making it possible for an SMB in one location to provide products and services to a customer on the other side of the world. Understanding the various touch points within ecommerce can dramatically improve the customer experience for SaaS and other online companies.

Product Reviews

In today’s digital age, product reviews are no longer a pre-purchase touch point. Now, customers have smart devices that can call up product reviews while they’re shopping in your stores. Additionally, some online retailers include reviews on the listing page, so you can see what other customers think without having to navigate away from the page.

Touch Points After a Purchase

Upselling/Cross-selling Emails

Customer needs don’t go away after a purchase is made. In fact, some customers have additional needs once they start to use your product. And, this presents an opportunity for you to upsell or cross-sell customers on additional or premium items in your store.

Thank You Letters

One effective way to build customer rapport is by following up with a thank you letter. This can be an email, or, if possible, a hand-written note that thanks customers for their business. It’s a great way to show customers you care and develop a long-term relationship with them.

Product Feedback Surveys

Product feedback surveys are sent after a purchase and they evaluate the customer’s experience with your product or service. If the customer leaves a negative review, the company can reach out to learn more about the issue. They then relay this information to the product development team who makes enhancements on the next version of the product.

Billing Actions

Billing is often an overlooked touch point on this list. That’s because it happens after a purchase occurs and has no direct influence on the customer’s decision to buy your product. However, it’s still a vital step in the customer’s journey because a negative experience can result in an immediate instance of churn, if not addressed properly.

Subscription Renewals

If you’re a subscription-based business, renewals are crucial to your revenue model. You need customers to renew their subscriptions to maintain steady growth for your business. This makes it important that you remove as much friction as possible from your renewal process. After all, it should be effortless for an existing customer to stay a customer after their contract is up.

Touch Points in Customer Service

Customer Support Channels

Customer support channels are any platforms that service agents use to communicate with customers. This includes chat, email, phone, social media, peer review sites, and more. Businesses need to invest in omni-channel support if they want to create a delightful experience for their customers.

Customer Success Program

Customer success programs have a variety of touch points found within them. When customer success recognizes a potential problem, they reach out to customers to notify them of the issue or offer a solution. This demonstrates a commitment to the customer’s goals which builds additional rapport over time.

Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding is a popular touch point for service teams because many customers abandon products shortly after buying them. That’s because they either don’t know how to use it, or they don’t have the time to learn how to use it. Both result in churn making it essential for companies to invest in effective onboarding programs.

Customer Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are another important touch point that service teams should be aware of. These programs strengthen your relationship with a customer and turn them into lifelong advocates.

Self-Service Resources

When customers are in a hurry or only have a quick question for your support team, they don’t want to spend 20 minutes waiting on hold for a rep. Instead, you can offer self-service resources that feature troubleshooting steps for customers can take on their own. That way, they’re not dependent on your service team for answers and can find solutions on their own time, making your product seem more convenient and easier-to-use.

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