‘Customer touchpoints’ might sound like just another mumbo-jumbo marketing term thrown around in boardrooms, but it actually breaks down to something really simple – and really important.
When people say customer touchpoints, they’re basically just referring to all of the different ways that a consumer might interact with or experience a product, service or brand. This starts from the minute they first hear of it, and bridges both the online and offline world. Or, it should do, if you’re doing it right. The point of these interactions is to reinforce brand positioning in the eyes of the people that matter – your customers – and create a strong perception of the business.
In simple terms, there are tons of fairly obvious touchpoints that most companies hit on – whether it’s intentional or just a lucky coincidence. These can be things like having a website or a Facebook page, staying stocked up with business cards, or sending out marketing materials via email. Even having a branded email signature can do the trick. But we should be looking to do more than just get by when it comes to customer experiences – and that’s where things get interesting.
All of the touchpoints we mentioned above are important, and shouldn’t be forgotten. But to stand out from an ever-growing crowd in all of the varying industry verticals, it’s about how you create touchpoints during moments that may be otherwise overlooked or may be entirely unexpected.
Unexpected encounters done right
There are already some big-time brands out there nailing their customer touchpoints, which can help to give us mere mortals inspiration to up our customer interaction game – and make sure we’re seeing the same levels of success as they are.
One of the biggest brands that’s become synonymous with great touchpoints is, of course, Apple. Apple seems to know all there is to know about how its customers like to shop – and with its website, Genius Bar, swarms of tech-loving employees and carefully designed packaging, Apple gets it right pretty much every time. One touchpoint not to overlook is the actual stores – which work as a showroom for people to try out products first hand. This increases trust, builds familiarity, and helps to ensure that the stores always look buzzy and exciting. Smart move.
— Matt Singh (@MattSingh_) August 1, 2018
Another company focused on their customers is Starbucks, a brand that’s famous for prioritising the little details – one being simply writing a customer’s name on their cup. Whether you’re a fan of giving over your name when you order, or are perpetually annoyed at it being spelt wrong 85% of the time, this little touch brings a personable element to the service in stores. Plus, even when it’s spelt wrong, it’s entertaining – and if you believe the rumours, they may even be doing it on purpose to get people talking.
— Andrea (@adumbrated) May 25, 2018
If you’re a fan of Mexican market food then you’ve probably come across restaurant chain Wahaca. The company is all about bringing people together and encouraging sharing, with a focus on natural freshness – in the branding, the style of the restaurants, and the food it serves. Another way it emphasises this is through the little packets of chilli seeds it hands out to customers when they pay – giving them a little bit of Wahaca to take home. Of course, people then tell their friends, and share photos of their budding chilli plants on social media – further spreading the word.
@wahaca Our first crop of green chillies from your wonderful seeds. The plants took a while to get going but the current hot weather has seen the chillies sprouting everywhere! pic.twitter.com/DGCLFkvoNL
— Cal (@200_More_Miles) August 4, 2018
Simple details can make all the difference with touchpoints, and can make the customer feel like they’re part of a special club – or enjoying a cheeky inside joke. Ikea, for example, uses brand colours for the highlight text on its website; this goes unnoticed by many, but helps to reinforce these widely-recognised brand colours and reinforce recognition. Simple, yet very effective.
While these digital touchpoints can feel less tangible, they are definitely not less important. Digital marketing and the internet as a whole give brands a host of opportunities to touch base with their customers. Tools like remarketing make it even easier to ensure that potential brand advocates don’t fall by the wayside, giving you a way to stay in touch after they leave your website. There are also tons of subtle things that we don’t even notice when we’re browsing through the 14th webpage that minute – but they all have an impact. Think about how Facebook shows grey wireframes before the page fully loads, just to let you know it’s still working, or how Apple use the spinning colour wheel for a similar effect (even if many refer to it as ‘the spinny wheel of death’). Make people feel special and safe, and like they haven’t been forgotten, and they’ll be with you forever. Well, until you do something they don’t like.
One of the ways that brands tend to get their touchpoints right is by experiencing the company through the eyes of a customer. If you don’t walk in their shoes then you don’t know what they’re looking for, or the path they’re going to take to find you. All of these things can help you to identify hidden opportunities for you to swoop in and sweep people off their feet – leaving a lasting impression of just how epic your brand is, and just how much you care about customer service.
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