Every day, you embark upon a journey to amazing places with your customers. Along the route traveled, your customers encounter opportunities to “sight see” your products, sample your service and create memories that will last a lifetime. This journey, however, is not to a distant destination. Instead, it’s the journey your customer takes when they are buying your product, service or brand. In examining the journey, your customer experiences many stops along the way. Each interface or stopping spot is called a touchpoint. If you are old enough to remember, AAA (auto club) had a program called the TripTik travel planner -- a multi dimensional roadmap specifying points of interest, places to shop, spots to eat, beautiful locations to sightsee and more. To be successful, you need to invest time to understand your customer's "TripTik" (touchpoints) with your organization.
Touchpoints are defined as any encounter before, during or after the sale that a customer comes in contact with your brand, product or service. In order to define your customer’s touchpoints with your company or brand, you should draw the “map” your customer takes on the “journey” of buying what you are selling. Hint: Touchpoints are found in three major areas of the customer journey -- before, during and after a purchase.
Each touchpoint is an opportunity for you to exceed expectations, strengthen your brand and provide evidence as to why a customer should stick with you and move to the next level. Conversely, should you ignore, or worse, not be aware of a touchpoint, you stand a chance of losing your customer, disappointing your customer or failing to meet your customer’s expectations.
The BEFORE touchpoints include word of mouth testimonials, social media reviews, research, marketing, website, phone calls with company representatives and many more. For these touchpoints, it is essential that your message be consistent, on point, honest and on target. How is word of your product getting to your potential customer? Have you done a good job with your past customers? Will the reviews warrant someone that has never come across your brand, buy your brand? Is your website easy to navigate without a degree in HTML? Will anyone that answers the phone be able to represent your company properly? Does your marketing department speak to your sales department and is everyone in your company on the same page regarding the services that you provide? If a potential customer is looking at online reviews, are you consistently scoring high grades? You should be aware of each and every step your customer is taking including elements like the physical condition of your environment. Why risk losing a sale because of something easily corrected like an overflowing trash can in your parking lot, a squeaky hinge at the entrance to your office, stained chairs in your reception area or fingerprints all over your conference room table. Do not undervalue or dismiss these touchpoints as unimportant areas.
The DURING touchpoints include phone and voicemail systems, email contact, contacts by sales representatives, your office (or store) appearance, your website, price lists or catalogs, marketing materials, customer service, social media channels and more. How consistent is your message and brand in each of these areas? If you have a great sales team, but they are so busy they have no time to quickly return phone calls or emails to prospective customers, your company needs to come up with a solution to this touchpoint roadblock. Improve upon any touchpoint creating a detour. Consider for a moment an organization that makes a huge investment in its company website, live chat and social media channels, but fails to properly train the entire company on the uses of these great tools. They are graded A+ for their website, but get a failing grade because their people are not using the tools effectively. Each step during the sales process needs to be examined and every touchpoint needs to be identified, fortified and strengthened to maximize the chances of making a sale and strengthening the company brand.
Let’s continue through the purchasing journey to the AFTER SALE touchpoints, including customer service calls, accounting department correspondence, post sale surveys, thank you cards, referral programs, coupon distribution and more. If you think the sale is over when the customer’s check clears, think again. You have a huge opportunity in the after sale touchpoints to generate future business, strengthen your brand and build a relationship that will last a lifetime. If you are sending out follow up surveys asking for product reviews, does your company take action and follow up with the customers who take their valuable time to fill out the survey? Many companies have a system in place to send out surveys yet no system in place to make improvements once the surveys come back. These touch points are the final impressions your company is making before the process starts again. Fail to make these touchpoints count and you are greatly reducing the chance your company will get a call back from this customer.
Your customer has a choice on who to take with them on this journey and you need to be an expert at understanding the route they travel. If you are not 100% sure of all your customer touchpoints, do an analysis that includes a group of buyers and prospective buyers in addition to your seasoned employees. You might be surprised at the responses from each of these groups. Analyzing each touchpoint will enable your company to improve performance, keep your brand’s promise and exceed expectations with each encounter. Keep your customers happy every step of the journey and they will want to return using your road map over and over again.
Please take a moment and share this blog with others. Twitter retweets, Facebook likes and LinkedIn shares amplify my message. Also, your comments below inspire future blogs. I am very interested in your comments and appreciate your time and your words. Thanks again for supporting my Nice Guys Finish First message.