Customer experience is the result of a series of interactions between your company and those you serve. These interactions–the places where your brand interacts with or touches your customers–are your touchpoints.
Some drive customers closer, while others push customers away. Many are within your control (think your Web site, sales staff, or advertising), others you can influence, (third-party ratings, word of mouth, or media), while still others are totally outside your control (such as competitors discussing your brand).
Today, the importance of improving customer experience is more widely recognized than ever. And since those experiences are delivered by touchpoints, it seems logical that the fastest path to improvement is managing how well those individual touchpoints perform.
Surprisingly, many companies don’t fully understand or measure their touchpoints, much less know how to improve individual touchpoint performance. And that’s a problem because they end up doing things like:
- investing more than required in touchpoints that aren’t that important to key customers;
- missing touchpoints that could radically improve customer experience;
- keeping touchpoints that are redundant and potentially confusing customers while sucking up resources; and
- not knowing where and how to most effectively allocate resources to improve customer experience.
The fact is, measuring the value of individual touchpoints isn’t as simple as gathering broad satisfaction or loyalty metrics. But it is very important. And it can be very straightforward.
Not All Touchpoints Are Created Equal. But How Can You Tell Which Are Which?
Not all touchpoints are created–or should be delivered–equal. Some just need to be “good enough,” or delivered at a level of competitive parity. Others need to go a little further to differentiate your firm in the minds of your audiences.
Still other touchpoints are make-or-break “moments-of-truth.” If you deliver above and beyond, then you win hearts and minds. If you blow it, then you likely lose that customer, as well as the many others to whom they’ll spread the word.
That’s a pretty wide range. To find out which are which–and how well you're doing at those that matter most–you’ll need to ask:
- Your customers: Which touchpoints are most important? Do they make it easy to do business with you? Are they enjoyable? How effective are they? And how much effort must your customers put in to get what they want?
- Your employees: How well do your people think you're doing? Do they think your touchpoints make it easy and enjoyable for your customers to do business with you? Where do they think you're investing that you shouldn’t?
- Your competitors’ customers: How well are your competitors doing? Which touchpoints are most important to their customers? What are your competitors’ weaknesses? Where might you be able to focus to gain the advantage?
While you can gather this information through annual opinion or relationship surveys, it’s best to gather touchpoint data regularly. Customer perceptions can change quickly, and you don't want to find out after the fact that a touchpoint (or a group of them) is causing issues.
So develop a system of ongoing surveys and analytics, or find a tool that allows you to measure touchpoint performance on an ongoing basis. Regardless, you’ll want to track touchpoint performance by, for example, customer segments, business units, regions, channels, and touchpoint types. For example, do digital channels perform better than your call center for certain high-value customers? Or is it the other way around? The only way to know for sure is to uncover the relative value of each touchpoint.
Measure What Matters–Not Just That Which Is Easily Measurable
When it comes to touchpoints, Peter Drucker’s enduring statement, “What gets measured gets managed,” holds especially true. Unfortunately, many companies only measure overall sentiments–such as customer satisfaction or loyalty–while missing the insights that touchpoint-level data can readily provide, such as where exactly, and how specifically, to take action to improve the individual interactions and resulting experiences that actually drive satisfaction and loyalty.
Put another way, while it’s important to know where you are, it’s even more important to know where you are going and where you want to go, and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to get there. Delivering better customer experiences requires an understanding of which touchpoints are most valuable and to whom, how well they work, which don’t, and why.
That’s why those companies that can answer “yes” to this question: “Can you measure the value of a single touchpoint?” are those whose customers are enjoying the best experiences of all.