Identifying and Improving Customer Journey Touchpoints

The Customer Journey describes just that – the route taken from first contact to purchase. From the first encounter to the final purchase decision – the consumer comes into contact with the product or company at a wide variety of points of contact. The journey is the goal – and it is particularly interesting for companies to follow this journey down to the last detail and to identify touchpoints in order to derive potential.

Every day we make hundreds of decisions, some consciously, others intuitively. A consumer's purchase process is also associated with many decisions. As a result of the decisions we make on websites, we are led to different points and thus, via clever marketing, come into contact with a product again and again. Similar to a trip with several waypoints, the customer journey is also a series of different experiences. Individual touchpoints are the big events, but even the smallest details can make a trip unforgettable. While some are positive, other experiences tend to have a negative impact on the picture. In the worst case, this can result in the customer canceling the purchase process and choosing a competitor. In order to strengthen the sales and conversions as well as the branding of a company, it is worth taking a look at customer touchpoints. This makes it possible to identify "offenders" and optimize both individual touchpoints and marketing. In practice, the points of contact and the topic of customer journeys are not a science – a thorough analysis of individual touchpoints is simply the first important step towards successful marketing.

Customer Journey – Understanding the Customer Journey

As we already discussed, the customer journey describes the individual stages that a customer goes through before deciding to purchase a product or service. This is therefore any point of contact that a person has with a brand or product. This journey of the customer can be divided into different phases. Similar to a scavenger hunt, the customer collects ever more information about a product or service at these individual touchpoints and thus forms the basis of an opinion. Since customers have individual needs, each customer experiences the customer journey subjectively. There are many possible variants and structures. Marketing experts need to use their creativity to analyze the customer journey to consider as many contingencies as possible. It is important to put yourself in the customer‘s shoes and contemplate his way of thinking. What do consumers expect? What benefits do they want to receive in what way? The goal is to generate as positive and as seamless a customer experience as possible. However, the design of the customer journey is not a one-off process, but rather a long-term task.

 

Definition: Touchpoints

So-called touchpoints are points of contact between companies and (potential) customers before, during, and after the purchase – i.e. along the customer journey. They are also called customer contact points.

Touchpoints – Puzzle Pieces along the Customer Journey

A customer journey can be long and extensive with a variety of touchpoints. It can last for days, weeks, or only a few hours. This usually depends on the product and the individual purchasing behaviour of the consumer. Depending on the length, it also consists of different touchpoints with which the customer comes into contact during his/her trip. Across industries, the average is about twenty touchpoints. On the basis of these, the path of the consumer leading up to the purchase decision can be accurately traced.

Posters, billboards, radio ads, opinions, and testimonials from social media or acquaintances, a visit to the store, or contact via email – the list of possible touchpoints along the customer journey appears endless. In broad terms, this is every possible point of contact between the customer and the company. Touchpoints are simple, but incredibly diverse. They are before, during, and even after the purchase process. Touchpoints can be divided into direct and indirect types. Contacts with the brand generated by third parties, such as friends and family, are indirect because the company cannot directly influence them. The situation is quite different for advertisements and other controlled advertising measures. With clever marketing, the company can have a direct influence on how it wants to affect the consumer.

 

Feedback is collected through various channels

Multichannel Touchpoints – Analog and Digital Fusion

In the digital age, customers have a variety of ways to connect with businesses and get more accurate information about a particular product. This is how digital and analog marketing measures and touchpoints of the customer journey mix. Let's take an example to illustrate this merger in more detail: after the customer has learned about a product in a conversation with friends and a clear recommendation has been made, he or she will want to find out more about the product over the Internet. In the course of the research, he pulls up the company‘s website and finds prices and other information about the product there. He then visits a specialist shop to consult before finally making a purchase.

Digital touchpoints
Analogue touchpoints
Company tebsite
Specialist shops / office
Social media accounts
Newspaper reports
Digitale Advertising, e.g. on Instagram or Facebook
Shop window / point of sale touchpoints
E-mail
Print
Blogs
Posters
Radio
Digital touchpoints
Digital touchpoints
Company tebsite
Specialist shops / office
Social media accounts
Newspaper reports
Digitale Advertising, e.g. on Instagram or Facebook
Shop window / point of sale touchpoints
E-mail
Print
Blogs
Posters
Radio

Touchpoints – Moments of Truth?

Of course, brands want to leave the best possible impression and influence the touchpoints of the customer journey as positively as possible. In order to understand the customer, the company must look at its own offers and services from the consumer‘s point of view. Mostly, potential buyers regard the company as a one whole unit. If they are not satisfied with any one touchpoint, they may re-orient themselves and defect to the competition. Therefore, it is important to get involved with the customer in order to contain such sources of danger and prevent losing the customer so early on in their journey.

The process of customer journey can also be compared to a funnel, because of all the consumers who come into contact with the product, significantly fewer make a purchase. Even if you offer an impeccable product that is perfectly adapted to the needs of the target group – if the customer journey or even just one touchpoint within it rankles, it can quickly have a negative effect on the purchase decision.

For companies, it is important to identify every touchpoint that a potential customer can come into contact with and to gather feedback from consumers. Why do the customers cancel their purchase process? At what points are they hesitant? If it is possible to identify the respective touchpoint and optimize the marketing, this will have a positive effect on company turnover. But the points of contact that have already been perceived as positive must also be improved, because according to a study, 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay even more if they receive optimal service.

Marketing funnel: Potential customers to actual customers

Phases of Customer Touchpoints

Since in particular, the very first point of contact between consumers and companies can be very different, research work is required. In this way, individual possibilities can be gradually collated. It is recommended that you assign different phases to each touchpoint.

Bullhorn

Activation

At this stage, passive action processing takes place, as the company tries to draw attention to itself. Touchpoints at this stage include TV commercials, print ads, or social media appearances. But indirect touchpoints can also be assigned here, such as the recommendation of friends and acquaintances.

Gathering information

Consumers then actively search for further information about the product or service provided by the provider. This can be done, for example, via a search engine, the company's own website, or various social media channels. In this phase, marketing experts are in high demand, as various contact points have to be established and continuously optimized to ensure the customer gets the information they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.

Action

The hook is baited, the customer has experienced their first touchpoints with the company. Now the consumer only has to put his planned behaviour into practice. At best, he now develops into a customer and a conversion follows. This can include, for example, purchasing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or creating a customer account. This can be done by calling a service hotline, requesting by email, or accessing the website.

One might think that the customer journey is over with the completed purchase, but companies should always try to strengthen and maintain the bond with the customer, even after purchase. This phase can also be described as a customer loyalty phase. If a company offers after-sales services, the likelihood of follow-up purchases can be increased. Ideally, the customer journey never ends, because even after the purchase, enough touchpoints should exist to keep the customer in mind and for them to consider future purchases.

Use NPS to Select the Right Touchpoints 

When you ask customers for their opinions or ask them for feedback, and how to choose the right touchpoint depends on several factors. For example, it is crucial to know what the requested feedback is to be specifically aimed at. On the other hand, the customer’s current position along the customer journey should also be taken into account. To simplify the whole thing, we have put together the seven essential journey steps. They take place in different order depending on the company and product. Touchpoints are usually located at the end of these stages. NPS surveys allow companies to collect actionable feedback from these touchpoints.

 

Touchpoint: Discover

Discover

In this step, a person becomes aware of a company or product. Touchpoints include, for example, advertisements or the product page on a website. When querying the NPS at this point, companies can collect helpful information about the completeness and function of their site.

Buy

In this step, the prospect becomes the customer by buying a product or service, which can be done both in person and online. This often includes an order confirmation or activation. Here, companies can obtain information about possible difficulties or defects in the ordering or purchase process.

Use

After using a product or service, a customer can give the company insights on functionality, ease of use, and many other aspects, as long as the company actively asks for it.

Pay

Depending on the business model, this step could take place both in person and online. Companies might learn, for example, valuable insights into missing or non-functioning payment methods.

Searching for Help Information

Touchpoints in this part of the customer journey usually involve a form of contact with customer service. However, this includes, for example, the search for information via an FAQ page.

Changes

This step often includes administrative aspects, such as changing contact information. If difficulties arise here, this is often very frustrating for users. Companies can proactively counteract such a case by asking the user about their experience.

Migrate

Customers or prospects may also jump off. This can therefore occur both before and after the purchase. Here, companies can use an NPS query to identify the reasons for the churn .

Let's start with Optimization – Clever Use of Touchpoints 

If the individual touchpoints of the customer journey can be named and defined, it is now time to optimize them and adapt them to your customer‘s wishes. Empathy is needed, because you must develop an understanding of your consumers' preferences. Behaviour patterns must be identified and business activities aligned with them. It is now the time to use the collected information for oneself and to optimize one's own communication concept and marketing.

Requesting customer feedback at multiple touchpoints offers a simple but highly effective solution to improve NPS not just at individual touchpoints but also the overall score, and therefore the customer journey. Through individual feedback, companies can target each individual customer, optimize customer retention, and the customer experience, thereby transforming customers into loyal regular customers and promoters. Customer feedback also alerts companies to possible criticisms and potential for improvement at an early stage and can thus begin to act proactively.

 

The Most Important ECommerce Touchpoints 

A large part of purchases in 2020 take place online, so it is essential for companies to analyze these important touchpoints particularly well. This is achieved, for example, with so-called scan paths, which analyze the customer's viewing history when viewing the online shop or website. Important touchpoints in e-commerce are, for example, the filter functions of the online shops. The possibility of contacting the company in the form of a chatbot is also viewed positively. To improve the customer journey in this area, a few measures are recommended:

  • Meaningful URLs that support direct web address input
  • Search ads with specific keywords, allowing the customer to get a trustworthy way into the shop
  • SEO measures: text on the website, articles on the blog, and the entire webshop should be optimized for keyword use
  • the navigational structure should be clear and easily understandable so that the customer can quickly find their product of choice
  • the search function of the shop should be targeted & the filter opt
  • the check-out process should be as short as possible. A simple design and a visible shopping cart button are essential

     

Every Little Helps: Optimize Touchpoints & Use Them Well

In the course of the customer journey, it is important not only to look at the big picture, but also to go into detail. If it is possible to define the individual touchpoints and to find out at which one the consumer cancels their purchase process, optimization of this point can improve the profitability of the company. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because every customer has different needs. Even if you give your best as a company and adapt your communication measures and marketing as best you can to the wishes and expectations of consumers, there will still be isolated customers who have something to complain about. In the course of optimizing the individual touchpoints of the customer journey and marketing, sensitivity, and empathy are required. If the points of contact can be successfully adapted, consumers can become enthusiastic brand ambassadors to customers who remain in contact with the company even after purchase and recommend it to others.