This last week I spoke with an acquaintance of mine who works for a very rapidly growing ecommerce site. As we talked about their recent growth, he brought to my attention that they have really streamlined the operational aspect of the business, but they were having a hard time connecting with their customers and getting them to come back. My question to him was, Do you have all the right touchpoints in place? To which I received some confused looks. For an ecommerce business, optimizing your touchpoints with your customers can be the best way to drive customer experience and define your brand.
Let’s start at the elementary points. Touchpoints are any interactions where customers and businesses engage to interact, exchange information, provide some sort of service, or perform a transaction. Think about the last time you bought something online, how did it go? Some of your interactions with the business are so subtle that interaction itself is often overlooked, however there affect on you isn’t. You can find customer touchpoints in any type of business whether that is a brick-and-mortar or a ecommerce business, or even non-retail service establishments like an auto-repair shop, a salon, or even a agency/consultancy.
Now for the more technical points. There are really three types of touchpoints: Interactive Digital Touchpoints, Static Analog Touchpoints, and Human Touchpoints. So what do all those mean and which will be most useful for your business? Interactive Digital touchpoints are most popular amongst ecommerce companies. They’re typically lower cost and there are many channels to take advantage of them and more easily optimized. Some of those touchpoints can be utilized with tools like Email, Social Media, Blogs, Web, Mobile and Free Trials. I told you earlier to think about the last time you bought something online, After you bought did you receive a confirmation email? That’s a touchpoint, and like every touchpoint, it can be optimized for a better customer experience. Static Analog touchpoints are one way communications, things like direct mail, TV ads, Radio ads, and the product itself. With the power of Big Data being harnessed in the digital world and deeper segmentation taking place, these channels are becoming less and less affective for customer interaction and driving sales but still maintain there weight for branding. Human touchpoints play a role in every business model, things like call centers, customer support lines, and sales people. For a salon or an auto repair shop, the Stylist or the Mechanic are a touchpoint, probably the most important of all for that model.
The first step to becoming a customer facing company is to map your touchpoints. Figure out the journey your customers go through to buy from your company over others. Where can we make it easier for customers? Where in the buying process are customers getting frustrated? Are the interactions they have with us good points or bad points? If Bad, why and how can we improve them. Mapping them helps you figure out the touchpoints you actually have now, how well they’re working and where you can make improvements and where you have redundancies that can be eliminated. As you map your touchpoints you can really separate them into two categories, Pleasure points and pain points. Any pain point is a reason for your customer to go somewhere else. When you look at your touchpoint map from an operational standpoint, you can make improvements to your customer experience, make some big gains in efficiency and improve your overall profit. Enjoy Mapping!
Below is probably and overly basic example of an experience my wife and I had in shopping and preparing for the upcoming birth of our daughter. Your touchpoint maps should include more detail and more touchpoints and interactions. This one was just a general overview.