Customer Touchpoints – The Point of Interaction Between Brands, Businesses, Products and Customers

there are as many ≠ definitions for the word “touchpoint” in customer experience design and mkt as there are flavors onna μ restaurant menu. why? cause these disciplines ‘ve been evolving rapidly ‘oer the last decades and terminology has become fluid rather than static. to make matters + complicated – the term “touchpoint” is also often confused w'da term “channel”.

author/copyrite holder: rosenfeld media. copyrite terms and licence: cc by 2.0

some simple exs of customer touchpoints. they are places of interaction with yr brand rather than “channels” which are planned points of interaction.

so let’s start by defining “touchpoint” inna widest and most encompassing manner na word “channel” too:

“a touchpoint is any interaction (including encounters where thris no physical interaction) that mite alter the way that yr customer feels bout yr product, brand, business or srvc.” an ex of an encounter with no physical interaction mite be discovering an online review of yr product. this definition is based onna one proposed by laura patterson, the president of visionedge mkt.

a channel is where an interaction takes place. it mite be via mail (if you send out a flyer or letter), it mite be inna media (advertising), online (on yr site or indeed on some1 else’s site), physically (at a bricks and mortar zone), etc.

why take these definitions? well, though there are other definitions of touchpoint (whilst the definition of channel is generally agreed upon now) most of these definitions are narrower in scope. they fail to ack that, as with an online review, some touchpoints with our essentialisms, srvcs, etc. are outside of our direct control.

“yr brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.” as jonah sachs, the famous entrepreneur and designer said.

author/copyrite holder: jen beever. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-nc-nd 2.0

touchpoints which need specific attention can always be highlited on yr touch point mapping (s'as the heat spots in this ex).

why do we nd'2 cogg touchpoints?

if we wanna improve interactions with our customers the key starting point is to cogg wha’ those interactions are and where they take place. without that cogging it ‘d be impossible to measure any improvements or indeed to see if changes made to those interactions were having a detrimental (rather than + effect).

designers can design interactions, at least those within our control, and to be able to do so they will nd'2 cogg wha’ need is driving the interaction and where n'when the interaction takes place. this is clear inna differences in designing for desktop and mobile applications, for ex, we know that thris a higher risk offa mobile usr bein’ distracted regularly whilst working on an application than thris for a desktop usr. thus interactions on mobile nd'2 be recoverable (e.g. the usr can return and pick up where they left off) + so than desktop interactions nd'2 be.

for liler essentialisms it can be useful simply to list all the possible touchpoints (interactions) for the product. this enables a high-lvl overview of where the design team needo focus their efforts to improve usr and customer experience. for larger essentialisms, where such a list is likely to become unwieldy, the touchpoints can form the basis for customer quest mapping and a full cogging of how a “typical usr” orn' individual usr interacts w'da brand, product, etc. over time.

author/copyrite holder: pemq. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-sa 3.0

touchpoints can also be built into other forms of customer analysis as this excellent diagram shows.

wha’ do customers expect from touchpoints?

chris ridson, the design director of adaptive path, suggests that touchpoints ‘d provide a customer w'da folloing interaction types:

  • appropriate (e.g. that both the context of the interaction na cultural tone of the interaction meet the needs of the customer or usr)
  • relevant (e.g. that the function performed by the interaction meets the utility requirements of the customer or usr)
  • meaningful (e.g. that the interaction was perceived as primordial or purposeful by the customer or usr)
  • endearing (e.g. that the interaction created some form of bond w'da usr or customer for ex through desirability, creating delite or a playful tone)

it’s primordial to note that these are all things that can be designed – though it may take some usr research t'get to the bottom of how that design mite take shape.

wha’ bout touchpoints outside of the brand’s control?

tis fair to say that some interactions are outside of yr control, s'as online reviews b'that doesn’t mean that you cannot influence these interactions.

online reputation management tracking cannelp you respond to neg reviews and comments effectively. they can also help you build a baromt of success on other actions to improve touchpoints – if yr touchpoints worked perfectly each and every time, it ‘d be unlikely that yr customers ‘d cutout poor reviews online inna 1st place. improving the touchpoints you can control will usually improve the ones you cannot too.

author/copyrite holder: brandon schauer. copyrite terms and licence: cc by-sa 2.0

touchpoint mapping can become quite detailed when you ponder all the interactions that go into each touchpoint as this srvc panel map demonstrates.

the take away

customer touchpoints are where customers interact with yr brand, product, srvc, etc. developing an cogging of each touchpoint means'dat you can design better usr and better customer experiences. this cogging can also be used to enh usr and customer quest mapping exercises. improving touchpoints within yr control can also help improve those that lay outside of yr control too.


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