Customers, Etc

By Ben McCormack

Priority Touchpoints | Customers, Etc

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Priority Touchpoints | Customers, Etc
By Ben McCormack • Issue #39 • View online
This week, we look at coming together across silos to identify key touchpoints in the customer journey, continuing where we left off last week with the simple customer journey map.

Imagine, if you will, that love is in the air, and you’re looking for a gift for that special someone in your life. Not just any gift, mind you—this is a particularly special occasion—you need a gift that shows your true love and devotion.
Your heart aflutter, you drive over to the local mall (I dunno, maybe you have a nostalgia for shopping in the 90s), don your mask, and walk into the first jewelry store you pass. There are so many choices, it’s hard to know where to start. A man in an ill-fitting blazer finishes his lunch, watching sports on his phone.
“Excuse me,” you interrupt him. “I’m wondering if you could show me a few items in this case.”
He grunts and walks over. “Of course, what’s your budget?” You’re not quite ready to talk dollars and cents, so you deflect. “Um, I’m not really… well… I was just wondering if I could look at these two pieces?” After making an annoyed sigh, he pulls out the two pieces and sets them on the glass.
The pieces aren’t really what you’re looking for. When the associate pulls out a few more pieces for you to look at, he hands you a brochure on “Cut, Clarity, and Carat.” Forcing a smile, you take a quick glance at the jewelry on the case and then turn to leave the store.
What happened? The jeweler failed to recognize a key touchpoint in your journey as a customer. When you first walked in, you weren’t ready to talk price or even start evaluating products. Whether you were aware of it or not, the first thing you were looking for was someone to validate your decision to buy jewelry in the first place. Failing to identify and prioritize key touchpoints can lead to disjointed experiences, lost sales, and angry customers.
Photo by Brooks Leibee on Unsplash
Photo by Brooks Leibee on Unsplash
Priority touchpoints
What is a “touchpoint” and how is it different from the named stages on your customer journey map (e.g. Awareness, Evaluation, etc.)? Touchpoints are the key moments where customers interact with your brand, like walking into a store, visiting a website, calling customer service, or paying for a purchase.
Remember, the journey map should be told from your customer’s perspective. It’s about their problem and their story. Much of their journey isn’t about you or your business. The customer journey provides the high level narrative of the customer’s story, while the touchpoints represent the moments when the customer’s journey and your business come together.
Priority touchpoints are those moments that make or break whether the customer continues on the journey with you or someone else. Failures at key touchpoints can drive customers away.
In our example of going to the jewelry store, the jeweler completely missed an opportunity to connect with the customer at the beginning of their journey. The jeweler jumped straight to the decision (“what’s your budget?”) and evaluation stages, completely skipping over earlier stages.
Keep touchpoints simple
Identifying all the ways that customers can interact with your brand can be overwhelming. There might be a temptation to map every individual touch point, but keep it high level when you’re getting started. As Jeanne Bliss observes in Chief Customer Officer 2.0:
My recommend is always to keep it as simple as possible…. One client told me they had “Visio blindness” from the hundreds of hours spent mapping every customer process. That’s not going to get you traction.
This is what will get you traction: Map the stages and get to the set of initial priority touchpoints along the customer journey.
Most crucially, involve people from the business that serve different areas of the customer journey. This isn’t just a “Customer Experience Team” project. Just like with the simple customer journey map last week, where we talked about the important of naming stages in a way that unites leadership, working together across the business will ultimately help to unite around the customer and their story, not just internal company silos.
Coming together to identify touchpoints
Imagine if the jewelry store had involved every department in identifying key touchpoints in the customer journey. Someone goes to the whiteboard and writes, “customer walks into the store” all the way to the left, indicating the start of the journey. Everyone sort of nods, when a junior member of the sales team pipes up from the back, “wait, doesn’t the customer’s journey start when they first have an idea to buy jewelry for their significant other? And if that’s the case, is there a way we can acknowledge that when they come into the store?” Okay, now we’re getting somewhere!
Perhaps the team will identify a priority touchpoint to “validate the customer’s reason for walking into the store.” But wait, since the VP of Marketing is in the room, she suggests creating radio and TV ads that validate the customer’s decision to purchase jewelry before they even come into the store, connecting reasons why people purchase jewelry with the company’s brand. Now you have a a key touchpoint at the awareness stage that can seamlessly connect to the in-store experience.
In fact, this is what many jewelry brands do. They don’t run ads talking about the difference between 14k and 18k gold—they connect on an emotional level with the reason you’re considering buying jewelry in the first place. When you arrive at the store, you already have the feeling of “they know why I’m here,” and their sales staff will continue to validate those emotional foundations throughout your decision-making process.
Hard work
This kind of alignment only happens when you have every area of the business aligning around the customer journey. Silos operating independently may come up with a bunch of neat projects, but it won’t be as impactful as aligning on key touchpoints in the customer journey.
I think this is pretty hard work, to be honest. We have a natural tendency to want to go heads down within our silos. And identifying touchpoints is just the start of the process. Having a journey map that sits in a drawer collecting dust doesn’t actually improve your customer’s experience. You have to actually spend the time as an organization designing experiences around these touchpoints and then measuring their success. That work isn’t easy, and it requires real leadership commitment for it to happen.
The good news is that the work is worth the effort. As I touched on in my first newsletter, customers are your only source of revenue. If you can design and measure touchpoints from the customer’s perspective, you’ll increase the probability that more customers will continue along their journey with you. And if you do a particularly remarkable job, perhaps they’ll tell their friends.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ben McCormack

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