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How Smart Are Your Touchpoints?

Published August 2, 2012

Touchpoints are increasingly interactive (and smarter). As with the many disruptive technological innovations that came before, the mobile Web and ever-connected “smart customers” who access it are driving a dramatic shift in the roles, types, and functionality of touchpoints.

How-Smart-Are-Your-TouchpointsAs customers and companies use technology to share what they and their customers and employees do, buy, think, and watch, the importance of touchpoints getting smarter, faster, and more relevant increases daily.

Yesterday: Just a few years ago, most touchpoints were static. Print ads, direct mail, point-of-purchase displays, etc., were the primary method of reaching customers. Even as the Web gained significance, it was hard for companies to make the shift to digital interactions.

Today: New smart touchpoints driven by social media, mobile apps, and easy access to data are helping the type and number of interactions between customers and companies multiply dramatically, and the lines defining traditional communications and distribution models have become increasingly hazy.

Tomorrow: Touchpoints will continue to get smarter and to expand exponentially. Companies will have the ability to leverage “sense and respond” touchpoints to better manage relationships, supply chains, and distribution. Smarter, faster, and more effective touchpoints will become both more feasible and provide critical competitive advantages.

We’re already seeing smart touchpoints everywhere. For example, irrigation controls are changing the way landscaping is managed by adjusting the amount of water released through sprinkler systems based on near-real-time inputs, including soil and atmospheric moisture content, historical weather patterns, and national weather service forecasts.

Wireless-device-based shopping apps let customers instantly compare and, in many instances, purchase alternative products (or the same products at lower costs) in a retail environment. “Smart tags” allow companies (and people) to append any amount or type of data they wish to almost any physical object or place.

Most Companies Still Have Too Many Static And ‘Dumb’ Touchpoints

Dumb touchpoints are those that can’t understand a customer’s needs or gather data about their actions. While they have a place, dumb touchpoints tend to deliver too little value to customers and cost too much to companies.

Consider the cost of planning, developing, printing, and distributing a simple letter to thousands of customers on an ongoing basis, versus the cost of a targeted email. Or a printed annual report versus an interactive one that allows investors to dig in (and allows companies to learn what customers are interested in digging into).

Stupid touchpoints are dumb touchpoints that are also unimportant to customers and/or ineffective at achieving their desired goals. Unfortunately, most companies have no idea whether their touchpoints are just dumb, or dumb and stupid.

It’s not a difficult task to find out, and the companies that do so nearly always learn things that surprise them and generate significant value.

By building smart touchpoints right into products and services, companies can create direct connections between themselves and their customers, actively controlling or influencing the customer experience.

Opportunities abound to design smart and interconnected products and services, providing the kind of information companies need to actively understand, measure, and improve customer experience across all their touchpoints.

This means eliminating as many dumb touchpoints as possible (and getting rid of all stupid touchpoints), making static touchpoints smarter, human touchpoints interactive, and interactive touchpoints intelligent.

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