Customer touchpoints: Examples, definitions, analysis methods

Customer touchpoints: Examples, definitions, analysis methods

In 2020, customer touchpoints have never been so important.

66% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. And it makes sense given 86% of buyers will pay more for a great customer experience.

Great customer experiences require a lot of attention to detail at every stage of the customer journey. So in this guide, we will not only go through the basics and why touchpoints are so important, we'll also hint at how you can start a touchpoint assessment.

Whether you're a newbie or an industry expert looking to brush up on the finer points, this guide is for anyone looking to understand touchpoints in detail.

We'll start with a run through of the foundations of customer touchpoints.

What are touchpoints?


Touch points definition

"A touchpoint is any interaction (including encounters where there is no physical interaction) that might alter the way that your customer feels about your product, brand, business or service." - a universal touchpoint definition.

Customer journey definition

"A customer journey is like a roadmap that shows every interaction with your brand pre-awareness through to post-purchase. It's the sum of customer touchpoints and documents the full experience of the customer."

Channel definition

A channel is the location of an interaction between a customer and a business. It's where the touchpoint is located.

Customer touchpoint examples

Typical direct customer touch points for most businesses include an element of bricks and mortar, a website, a call centre, post, email, customer service/support and sales.These touch points can then be multiplied by the number of in-direct touch points such as social media, aggregators, content, marketing, indirect partner channels, third party review sites, market research, 3rd party industry regulators, the list goes on.

Customer Touch Points

Customer journey mapping screenshot
Customer journey mapping screenshot

Industry experts from companies like Pret a Manger, Gartner, Three and HP discuss how to turn customer support into a driver of bottom line growth.

Customer journey touchpoints

The pre-purchase touchpoints

The pre-purchase touchpoints are often described as producing unknown results. They are defined as all the moments of contact a potential customer has with a business before they interact with the business themselves. Even though their individual effects on customers can not be translated into data all the time, they are still a valuable part of the customer journey.

There are plenty of different forms that a pre purchase touchpoint can take, for example:

  • Social Media Adverts
  • Social Media Posts
  • Displayed Advertising on Websites
  • Word of Mouth
  • Reviews
  • Employee Generated Content
  • Media
  • Content Sponsorship
  • Marketing

Knowing which of those touchpoints are the most significant to you and leveraging their influence is an essential part in crafting a good customer experience. Search engines are often a key part of the customer journey. If your website is SEO optimised you can answer specific queries potential customers might have, adding value to them before they know who you are. There's a ton of SEO tools out there that can help you focus your content on pre-purchase customer queries.

The purchase touchpoints

The purchase touchpoints are all the interactions the customer has with the business whilst they are purchasing the advertised service.

Years ago, the main touchpoint of this most likely took the form of physically going into the shop to make a purchase. However now there is much more to consider in terms of purchase touchpoints, for example:

  • Website
  • Sales Team
  • Customer Service Team
  • Physical Store
  • Events
  • Through distributors or retailers

Ensuring that the experience customers have at this point is vital a good way to increase the likelihood that this customer will become a customer for life. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer, hence it is in the best interest for a business to ensure that this part of the customer journey is as smooth as possible.

The post-purchase touchpoint

Assuming that the customer journey is over once they have made their purchase is a mistake that can cost businesses time and money. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.

Here are a few examples of post-purchase touchpoints:

  • Forms
  • Social Media (Making sure that you don't forget about your existing customers on your social media is crucial if you want to create a community around your business)
  • Email
  • Newsletters
  • Customer Service
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Billing

Customer Journeys are becoming more varied and complex due to the increasing number of touchpoints. For a business with the desire to improve their customer satisfaction they need to be aware now more than ever of what their touchpoints are and whether they are aiding their businesses or not.

Why are touchpoints important in the customer journey?

The most important thing about touchpoints is that they are where people form opinions about your company.

Often a customer interacts with your brand 20 times before they purchase. Each one of those leaves an impression. And each one is an opportunity to leave a favourable impression that ultimately leads to a sale.

Effectively monitoring and perfecting your touchpoints is now a competitive act. They create the opportunity to win a customer from a competitor, retain more loyal customers, and to influence purchase consideration.

The link between customer satisfaction is why managing touchpoints is so important. But it's also why a large number of customer journey touchpoints makes CSAT so complex. Feedback on every single one needs to be monitored, no easy feat at scale.

Touchpoints are even more important in 2020

2020 is a new era of customer-centricity. More than 66% of companies now compete primarily on customer experience. Showing that customers want to be 'Wow!'d by their interaction with your brand.

Successful businesses in the next decade will focus on innovating across multiple touchpoints.

Winning the tech-savvy customer will require the building of a brand story at each touchpoint and then weaving them together.

Contagious loyalty and brand advocacy come from authenticity and trust at every point in the customer journey. So it's essential businesses know which touchpoints are letting them down or causing mistrust so that time and effort can be direct there.

Customer experience touchpoints: How to deal with complexity and do an analysis

Who's listening to the voice of the customer?

This complexity of today’s multiple touchpoints, multi-channel business environment makes it almost impossible to provide a consistent service and experience across every touchpoint. A complexity that often leads to low customer satisfaction.

To improve customer satisfaction, you need to make sure each touchpoint leads to a good customer experience. A lot to handle for a fast growing startup who—tackle that challenge with one of these voice of the customer tools!

Customer touchpoint analysis

To keep customer satisfaction metrics high across the business you will need to measure customer feedback at various touchpoints. The more direct and in-direct touch points that you have, the more complex your customer feedback and satisfaction metrics will need to be. Measuring feedback at individual touchpoints can lead to the risk of losing sight of what the customer wants due to the siloed nature of feedback collected.

How to conduct a customer touchpoint analysis?

Managing your customer experience is an ongoing process, and one that is a team effort. If CX is not a cross-functional effort, you risk inefficiency, siloed customer insight and doing double the work.

The first thing you need to know about customer touchpoint analysis is that they're never complete. Customer expectations change over time and you must evolve with them.

Once we're clear on that, you can begin an assessment.

Stage 1: Mapping the customer journey. Identify every touchpoint a customer interacts with pre-purchase through to purchase, lay it out using an online platform or on a whiteboard.

Stage 2: Listen to your customer at each touchpoint. Collecting feedback is paramount these assessments. Technology can be really useful here. You should use a tool like SentiSum to collect feedback in real-time about every stage in the customer journey because it provides a comprehensive, timely, and unbiased view of the customer.

Stage 3: Create a single source of truth. The goal for all businesses needs to be a single source of customer truth. This will be the place where all customer feedback from all channels, direct and indirect can be connected to provide a dynamic and real-time customer journey satisfaction view.

Stage 4: Act. It is very important to that the data you collect is turn into insights that are actionable. It's a waste of time to understand customer pain at particular points in the journey without taking this opportunity to drive change across your organisation.

In our view, useful data has these characteristics:

  • Detailed enough that you understand the root of the problem.
  • Unbiased data; collected in a way that does lend itself to falsehoods.
  • Data that is fresh. As discussed, customer expectations evolve rapidly. If data collection was done months ago then a problem may have evolved making the change you make potentially damaging.
  • Clear ability to prioritise. Qualitative data lone struggles here. How do you know which problems are more important? Which issue at each customer journey touchpoint should you focus on first? Consider quantifying through volume of topic mentions or manually assigning a severity number. This way you know what is driving customer complaints the most.
  • Highly accessible. We've seen siloed data time and time again and it must stop. If you conducted a customer touchpoint analysis, the relevant team must know before they can work with you to reduce negative sentiment at their touchpoint. At SentiSum, we've built a daily digest feature so every day all users can have their finger on the pulse of customer complaints. Accessibility like this ensures your organisation is aligned around your customer's true expectations.
"Journeys are 30-40% more predictive of customer satisfaction and churn." - McKinsey & Company
Touch points examples

Here's a customer journey map populate automatically by our old platform. We took all the customer feedback across multiple touchpoints and channels and analysed it automatically to provide a single view of customer truth.

We've now gone one step further than consumer sentiment offered by NPS surveys. We realised that we could build customer analytics software that supports our customers to become highly customer-centric by focusing on support conversations. The data goldmine sitting at this touchpoint is a gateway to understand almost every other touchpoint, as the customers are so candid with their complaints and the data is inherently unbiased and fresh.

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