I recently had the honour and opportunity to talk to several small business owners about their Customer Journey’s as part of the BIPC Reset. Restart programme – here’s some information to follow up and summarise the session.
Here’s a fascinating fact…..when Apple became frustrated that some of its’ retail partners were not doing a good enough job creating the ‘Mac Experience’ for Apple PC customers, they decided to open up their own stores and take control of what they wanted their customers to see/hear/feel……which was considered at the time to be a terrible move – a Tech Company moving into Retail – CRAZY!
However, Apple are now considered to be a retail Customer Experience benchmark for others to live up to, and major reason why Apple has enjoyed growth and incredible loyalty for their brand – they took control of their most important Customer Touchpoint….
So, should every business invest in their key Customer Touchpoints in such grandiose fashion?
Of course, not - however it’s definitely time for us all to completely understand our own Customer Touchpoints and make informed decisions about how we want to appear to our customers – especially now.
The Covid pandemic has altered the way we’re all working, and has also affected customer behaviour and expectations - and that will last long into the future and maybe forever. During this period, some companies have been overwhelmed with business increases we could never have imagined, while some have experienced near shut-down – and it’s true to say that whichever side of the fence your business falls, its likely you’ve had to change (or pivot!) – and fast – but have you noticed that the way your customers interact with your Brand or Service has changed too?
So, what is a Customer Touchpoint and what should I do about them?
A Customer Touchpoint is generally considered to be any interaction point between your customer and your brand/service.
When you consider your Customer Touchpoints, you should usually think about them as divided into three main areas:
Awareness (or Discovery)
Evaluation (Researching & Making the Purchase)
Post Purchase (After the sales, enquiries, and ongoing communication
It’s important you can identify the many and varied ways your customers come in to contact with your business, products or services so you can ensure they are as you want or need them to be. After all, if you’re a retailer you wouldn’t forget to check your store window – so make sure all your touchpoints have the same impact – otherwise you risk ‘customer leak’.
Your touchpoints could be a combination of:
Website - look, feel and ease of use
Calls into your business – answer phone messages, speed of response, call handler approach
Incoming emails – automated responses, follow up, consistency of responder, non-templated responses
Customer Review sites – e.g., Trustpilot, Trip Advisor
3rd parties that stock your products – retailers, other websites
Virtual sellers – Amazon, eBay
Personal recommendation – what are your existing customers saying about you?
Expos and Printed Collateral – Leaflets, Stands, Promotional sites
Social Media – who checks, who posts, who responds, how consistent is it?
So – it’s not just when you speak to a customer right?
When you really understand the reach of your touchpoints, it’s about finding out if each of these are presenting your business, products, or services in the way you want them to.
When you can clearly see where all your customer touchpoints are – and you’re able to look at them through your CLIENT/CUSTOMER lens and not yours, you can begin to identify which are strengths for your business, and which may be causing you harm, or costing you money unnecessarily.
For example – you may find that the particular touchpoints associated with Awareness and Discovery (e.g., Website, Customer Reviews etc) are very strong for you. However, if your Post Purchase touchpoints are not so strong, are you unnecessarily ‘leaking’ customers after you’ve done all the hard work to attract them in the first place – ask yourself how you are engaging with them and keeping them interested in you?
We all know that existing and repeat customers are much more profitable that constantly having to attract new ones!
Channels v Touchpoints
Another potential trap is to simply confuse Customer Touchpoints with “Business Channels” – here are some examples of Business Channels:
We have a Website
We use direct mail / leaflets / email information
We provide Pay Points
We answer the Phone / have a Call Centre
We send Newsletters
We provide Loyalty Schemes
We design Promotional Offers
We follow up sales with an aftersales call
We have a Service Recovery department
Business Channels are most definitely legitimate ways to create your customer strategy – but remember, they are the decisions YOU have made and not necessarily what the CUSTOMER is looking for – they are often the ‘WHATS’ without the ‘HOWS’...
So – we suggest if you want to ensure you’re presenting your ‘best face’ to your customers consistently, make sure you review how effective each touchpoint is – and ASK your customers if they are working for them?
Here’s some ‘get started’ tips…
Identify which Touchpoints you’re in control of, and which you’re not e.g. anything ‘outsourced’ (like external review sites) versus in-house activities
Check touchpoints in your control – review and align them – here’s some ideas:
Do you meet the needs of the customer depending on the way the customer interacts with you – e.g., customer contact via Twitter generally requires immediate response whereas a response to an email is expected to take a little longer and be personalised.
Do all your touchpoints have a consistent ‘tone of voice’, regardless of the reason the customer is ‘meeting’ you…e.g., do you respond to sales enquires in the same way as you do to customer complaints?
Is each Touchpoint response relevant to the customers reason for using it? e.g., do you use the same response process regardless of the reason customers are reaching out? e.g., Social Media enquires v Direct email contact?
Overall – do they make your business easy to do business with?
Three – check out your reviews/ratings on external feedback sites
Respond publicly to reviews whether good or bad,
Be bold about publishing changes and improvements resulting from feedback
Ultimately – show you value the Business / Customer partnership
And – here’s some other aspects to consider when reviewing your Customer Touchpoints…
Are they addressing your customer needs – or creating another ‘Business Channel’
Have YOU ever tested the flow of information – incoming or outgoing – where are the gaps or barriers?
Are you able to ‘invent’ any new touchpoints (the Apple example)?
And – overall, do your touchpoints provide your business with its USP
Remember, there are millions of services and products that meet similar needs – so why should a customer choose you?
The reality is, YOU can never make that final decision – however, by reviewing the many ‘lenses’ through which your customers see, hear, feel, and touch you, you can ensure you appear exactly how you want to – attract customers who will value what you’ve got to offer– and enjoy long lasting relationships with ALL your existing and potential customers.
This article was written for the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire by Lindsey Marriott from Specific Learning & Coaching, who previously hosted some of our webinar events, as part of our Reset. Restart programme. If you'd like to know how the BIPC Northamptonshire can help you and your business, please do get in touch with us.