Reaching new clients and maintaining relationships with past clients is heavily dependent on maximizing customer touchpoints. What exactly is a customer touchpoint though? In this article we will break down what customer touchpoints are and why it is important to understand and evaluate each of the touchpoints you have with your clients.
A customer touchpoint can be defined simply as the many ways in which a brand can interact with and display information to current clients and prospective customers. This can include:
- Face to face communication
- Interaction with your website
- Social media engagement
- Email correspondence
- Text messaging
- Phone conversations
- Any other way in which you might interact with your clients
Every touchpoint is an opportunity for a client or prospect to form an opinion of your business. It also allows them to compare previous perceptions of your business with what they are personally experiencing. Touchpoints can heavily influence consumer decisions at any point during the buying process.
The Different Types of Touchpoints
There are four general types of touchpoints.
Company-created touchpoints are quite straightforward. These are your traditional advertisements designed to convey a specific message to prospective clients. This can be print ads, pay-per-click ads, social media, signage, etc. Company-created touchpoints are pre-planned with a specific goal and message in mind.
Intrinsic touchpoints are typically communication between a staff member and customers during the purchase of a product or service. This can be a customer service interaction with a customer while they are in a store or during a phone call. These touchpoints are crucial for developing your brand image on a personal level.
Unexpected touchpoints are not controlled by your business. These touchpoints are communication between others. This can be word of mouth, reviews left on Yelp and other review sites, viral marketing, and more. While these touchpoints are not controlled by the business directly, your behavior greatly impacts how your brand is perceived by others. Unexpected touchpoints are very important as they have a significant impact on your brand reputation.
Customer-imitated touchpoints are unique in that they are messages relayed from a customer directly back to the business without a purchase being made. This is often feedback or sharing of experiences. Think of a suggestion box where a customer would leave feedback based on their interaction with a business during a previous purchase.
Touchpoints can be grouped into earned, owned, or paid categories.
- Earned – Customer recommendations, product test reports, reviews, and any other product or service feedback “earned” through the sales process.
- Owned – This is any marketing material that belongs to you or that you have created such as your website, sales brochures, sales consultations, etc.
- Paid – Paid is your classic advertising. Any form of advertising that you would pay for such as pay-per-click campaigns, radio or television ads, etc.
They can also be grouped based on what stage of the buyer journey the customer is in.
- Pre-purchase – Viewing an ad, reading product or service reviews on the internet, word of mouth from a past customer, etc. This is how your product and brand are first recognized by the customer.
- Purchase – These touchpoints occur during the sale. This can be through your website, an in-store purchase, a sales call, etc.
- Post-purchase – These interactions occur after the sale. Ongoing customer service, loyalty programs, monthly newsletters, and any communication occurring after a purchase is made.
Taking Advantage of Effective Customer Touchpoints
Having a better understanding of each of the different types of touchpoints is important for many reasons. By being able to evaluate the various touchpoints a customer experienced, you can better understand how purchasing decisions are made and are influenced. As you are able to determine which touchpoints are effective and which are not, you will be able to attract more first-time customers and greatly increase repeat business.
Understanding each interaction and customer transaction from pre-purchase to post-purchase will allow you to develop a more effective marketing and advertising strategy. You can allocate more resources to the touchpoints that are having the greatest impact on new and repeat business, resulting in a better return on your investment.
In the mortgage and insurance industries, post-purchase touchpoints can be more significant than other industries. According to Freddie Mac, the average real estate transaction occurs once every 3.6 years. This is often a refinancing transaction. Insurance products are often only in the minds of customers when they need to make a claim or when they are contacted for renewal.
It is important to increase post-purchase touchpoints in these industries to ensure you remain in the minds of your clients. This can encourage clients to reach back out to you versus shopping around for the product or service they need. Referral business can increase greatly when clients are frequently reminded of their experience with your business. You can also encourage repeat business earlier than typically expected. Clients may see communication from you and that communication can be the reason they decide to refinance or to add a new policy to their insurance portfolio. Post-purchase communication such as monthly newsletters, email marketing, and active social media posting are highly effective. Always encourage clients to follow your social media during or after a sales transaction to remain in contact.
Being able to evaluate the various touchpoints your customers experience is vital to new, repeat, and referral business. The better understanding you have of each transaction and the touchpoints used will allow you to grow your business, your brand reputation, and will result in a greater return on your marketing investments.