This week we have been looking at touch-points for a few of our clients. This is something that marketing departments in large organisations are very aware of but it often gets completely overlooked for smaller businesses.  Traditionally a business would have interaction with its customers through specific physical communications, these include visiting a store, phone calls, SMS, emails and fax. As the internet has provided more and more ways to connect with customers we can add to this Social Media, Online Chat, Video Conference calls and many more.

The trouble is that although we are ultimately aware that we have an opportunity to influence customers with all of these messages, often businesses fail to plan what they are going to say and when. So here are some tips for managing you customer experience and making the most of your ‘touchpoint’ opportunities.

1) Customer Lifecyle
cx-continuumWhere are they in the buying / ownership cycle? Have they only just realised that they have a ‘need’ for what you offer or are they already researching the alternatives and short-listing their options? Are they aware of your company / brand or do you still need to gain their trust? Have they purchased from you before or recently? How can you keep them engaged and interested during the ownership and review stages? This diagram from Oracle is a great tool for starting to think about each of the difference stages in the customer life-cycle and what your opportunities are to communicate with them throughout the process.

2) Stand in Your Own Queues
In other words try to experience your marketing and sales process from the point of view of your customer. What messages and communications are you sending out along the way? What opportunities are you missing to get customers to interact with your brand.

3) Offer as many methods of communication as you can.
Some people prefer Social Media as a form of communication and would much rather interact with your brand on Facebook or Twitter than by being called on the phone, however others might not use the internet at all and prefer to receive a phone call or letter. There are a number of social media sites and other communication channels to choose from now and different customers will prefer different channels so it is important to have a strong presence on the sites that you have identified are used by your core customers.

4) Lurk and Monitor
Make sure you are aware of the opportunities you have to create touch points with new and potential customers. Look for related keywords in their content that give you an opportunity to interact with them.

5) Collect Contact Information – And Use It!
Wherever possible try to collect contact information so that you can get in touch with customers again later. Don’t forget to send your email marketing newsletters regularly enough so that customers don’t forget you but not too often that they are annoying or intrusive. Email addresses are additionally useful as they not only allow you send direct marketing messages but if the address is also linked to a social media profile you can track the customer across more than one platform.

5) Track and Measure
Collect as much data as you can about the touchpoints you have with customers. Use online mail tools such as MailChimp to track information on which customers clicked which linked, who forwarded your messages and who just deleted them without reading. Collect data on your Social Media activities, direct conversations with customers and any interactions they have with the brand or retailer. Online ad tools like Facebook and Twitter Ads often also provide you with code to add to your site so that you can start to target customers with adverts based on their browsing history (ever wonder why that item you viewed on Amazon last week is suddenly in every ad on every website you visit? – it obviously not coincidence!).

6)  Maintain your brand identity
Make sure that the customer receives the same level of service at every point of interaction with your brand.  They need to feel that they can trust your company and providing a consistent experience is key to ensuring they continue to return.  Here is a link to an article about how Apple do this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michellegreenwald/2014/05/21/20-ways-apple-masters-customer-touchpoints-why-its-great-for-business/3/

The most important thing to remember is that to improve and sustain your customer service levels you need to understand them.  Map out your customer journey and the points at which you have an opportunity to engage, influence, inspire or delight them and then do it continually and consistently.

If you would like help to understand your customer journeys, touch-points or communication models contact us