Managing Customer Touch Points

“Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.” – Jonah Sacks

Positive customer experiences and enhanced customer satisfaction now form the most crucial points of differentiation in a business world marred by copy cats and self-defeating price wars. Research and studies consistently prove that there is a direct connection between the relationship businesses have with customers and the success it has or does not have. These associations are formed through customer touch points and it is imperative for the company to manage their overall effectiveness in order to provide great customer experiences.

Customer touch points form the basis of how customers perceive a company and these perceptions translate to buying decisions. The service received at customer touch points will drive future relationships and hence managing these touch points is undeniably one of the most important tasks of the company. Better customer experiences mean happy customers throughout their ‘journey’ with the company. This in turn translates to increased sales, customer loyalty and brand advocacy through them. No company can deny the importance of these aspects to their business.

Managing customer touch points is a challenge since there are a number of them and customers can connect with a company through any one. The expectation of customers is to receive excellent customer service at all times. This means that even the customer touch points must be able to provide a uniform high standard of service and experience, irrespective of the medium the customers choose. In order to ensure that the great service is the standard across all customer touch points, a company must first identify them and then address any issues that could be present at any or many of them. Which do you consider as customer touch points?

  • Customers connect with a company face to face when they visit their stores and other brick and mortar establishments. In addition, they also interact with the company’s sales and marketing personnel at different locations.
  • Amongst the most commonly used of customer touch points is via the phone. This could be for general enquiries, to receive resolutions for problems, get troubleshooting assistance and register complaints and a plethora of other reasons.
  • The most easily accessible and widely used of the customer touch points is on-line. Customers can leave messages for companies on the company website, interact through social media or any other digitized touch point created by the company.
  • To enable more customer interactions, companies also put up kiosks or booths at different locations. This is more common during the launch of a new product. It is common to find such booths at airports, large stores, banks, malls and busy market areas.
  • Another crucial touch point for companies, are the personnel that employed for the sole purpose of repairing and maintaining the products they have sold to customers.

The task of ensuring that all the customer touch points run efficiently and deliver the same top class service is not an easy one, and many companies falter repeatedly. This is in turn results in customer dissatisfaction and even churn. It is important to ensure that all these touch points are integrated and every customer interaction recorded and stored in a central place. Each time a customer connects, they should not need to repeat their query or let the customer service representative know their ‘history’ with the company – the representative should be able to see it at the click of a button. Another vital factor that will ensure uniformity and satisfaction across all customer touch points is the uniformity and standard of communication. Customers must not hear conflicting information from one to the other touch point. Companies that slack on these aspects are sure to have frustrated and disgruntled customers, who would then seek out a company that can provide good service to them. As customer ire grows, it is to expected, that the customer interfacing staff would be at the receiving end of this irritation. Being constantly yelled at would lead to lowered morale and high employee attrition – another curse for any company.

The fact is that once a person becomes a customer it translates to a journey with the company. A journey or a process therefore cannot be limited to a single interaction or connection made with the company. In order for a strong relationship and connection, there would need to be repeated interactions that would reinforce the customer’s faith in the company’s ability to serve them with dedication and commitment. These repeated interactions take place at the customer touch points and depending of the quality of the interaction will pave the way for the customer’s perception of the company and enable the customer to decide whether to stay with the company or not. The goal of a company therefore must be to harness the power of the interactions at customer touch points and create for itself a competitive advantage that will put it ahead of competitors.

Managing all the customer touch points is an arduous and complex process. It would make sense for a company to look at each touch point in isolation and then combine their efforts. It is critical for a company to understand the importance, role, strength and improvement areas of each touch point. By monitoring and measuring each one separately, it would be easier for a company to determine how each touch point fares with regard to customer experiences. The understanding of the improvement areas will allow a company to make the changes and strengthen the lacking touch point. It would be necessary, however, to monitor continually each touch point to ensure that customers receive top class service and memorable experiences on a consistent basis. Consistency of great service would instil trust and loyalty in customers and encourage them to let others know about the company and its offerings as well.

Measuring the efficacy of all the customer touch points should be a regular practice in the company. The touch points mentioned above are not the only ways that customers can connect to a company. Customers visit a company’s website, take part in ‘discussions’ on social media sites, subscribe to mailers and company brochures, listen to advertisements, attend promotional events and programs, read company blogs and articles and a whole buffet of ways by which they learn more about the company and make their buying decisions.

Given that managing so many customer touch points is a herculean task, many companies put together core groups to manage each touch point and put together their findings and recommendations. The main aim of putting together these core groups is to have ownership and responsibility for the particular touch point.  In order to have consistent communication, it would be helpful to enlist the services of a professional content person or company, who would put together communication that is customized yet which would have the same central theme. Irrespective of which channel a customer decides to connect with the company, they would see cohesive content and receive the same kind of great customer service through all.

It is important to remember that customers have their preferences and would show an inclination to connect with a company via one or two touch points. Companies must ensure that when they interact with the customer they must do so via the preferred channel or risk putting the customer off for good. Customer service, as we have discussed repeatedly, is not the job of the front line teams. Any and every one in the company that has an opportunity to interact with a customer must have the requisite training and right attitude to serve the customer. Each person therefore is one among the many customer touch points and must serve the customers accordingly.

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