Businesses interact with customers on many fronts and levels. These interactions with customers are a vital part of branding, marketing, and sales for businesses. Advertisements, while an effective part of the process, are just one part of the overall network of touchpoints including all the different brand interactions that happen throughout a customer journey.
What Is a Customer Touchpoint?
A customer touchpoint is basically any interaction a potential customer or confirmed customer has with a brand before, during, and after purchasing a product or service from a brand.
Any time the brand and customer interact with one another, that is a customer touchpoint. These touchpoints happen at any time and any place, offline or online.
Let’s look at an example to make it easier to understand. Jess is a potential customer for XYZ Inc. She saw an advertisement (first touchpoint) for products the company was selling that are of interest to her. Jess goes to the XYZ website (second touchpoint) and went from being interest in the product to wanting it.
She goes to her local supermarket to find and buy the product she wants. While there, she notices some creative marketing by the company, such as banners (third touchpoint). Jess finds the product she wants and is impressed by the packaging (fourth touchpoint). Jess buys the product, uses it, and is more impressed with it than before (fifth touchpoint). Unfortunately, something goes wrong and the product malfunctions and breaks. Jess contacts the customer service department to arrange a replacement (sixth touchpoint).
These different touchpoints are typically grouped together and capitalized on to create a consistent brand experience and get people thinking positively about a brand and the interactions they have. This helps foster closer relationships with customers and a higher customer retention rate. The more impressed customers are, the more they keep coming back.
The Different Types of Touchpoints
Despite what most people think, not all touchpoints are in the hands of the company. There are four main types of customer touchpoints, including:
Company Created Touchpoints
Touchpoints made by the company are the marketing messages the company creates and controls. This includes packaging, promotional tools, company websites and more.
An intrinsic touchpoint is something intrinsic to the offering. These touchpoints are felt when customers buy and use the product or service in question. Brands don’t have as much control over these touchpoints.
An unexpected touchpoint is an unexpected reference or piece of information that isn’t directly controlled by a brand. This includes things such as viral marketing, word of mouth marketing, and customers talking about the products.
These touchpoints are made when customers contact the company, such as contacting customer service or using a brand-specific care provider.
The Importance of Customer Touchpoints
Studying the customer journey and how customers interact with a brand is a vital part of understanding how your brand can influence the customer buying decision and how you can attract customers towards your offerings.
Understanding customer touchpoints also helps in several other ways.
Develop a Better Business Strategy
Understanding customer interactions helps you develop better business strategies. These strategies add more meaning to customer interactions and improve the overall experience.
Increase Marketing ROI
Knowing and understanding touchpoints reduces wasted resources, leading to better return on investment for marketing.
Foster a Better Brand Image
Mapping customer touchpoints and effectively tapping into them creates a better brand image for you because it makes people think more favorably towards your brand. This can build trust in your brand.
The Important First Moment of Truth
The importance of customer touchpoints is felt with the all-important First Moment of Truth (FMOT). Let’s say you need to buy milk and go to the grocery store to get some. What makes you pick the bottle you do?
There are plenty of options in front of you. So many different brands trying to tempt you into picking them up. Even so, you have no trouble picking a carton and buying it. The moment where you’re looking at an endless array of similar products and looking for a specific one is known as the First Moment of Truth in advertising.
Procter and Gamble Co. determined customers decide within seven seconds of reaching their First Moment of Truth. This short time is your best chance to convert a browser into a buyer or even stealing a customer from your competition. This means that your design, marketing, and labeling efforts need to appeal to customers in that short window.
Sometimes, before the FMOT comes the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT — Google coined the phrase for when someone researches a product online. You can read more about that here.
No matter what industry you’re in, you’re sure to face plenty of competition. Customers have a lot of choice these days, meaning they have higher expectations of brands, products, and services. You need to establish trust with a potential customer as early as possible. The way to do that is through powerful and relevant branding that immediately connects to the audience, establishes trust, and encourages them to choose you.
Why Does This Matter?
We get it might be difficult to understand all of this. Some of it sounds theoretical at best and like it’s not relevant to your business. Have you ever heard someone say something like they don’t understand why they prefer the competition, or that they wish a particular brand had a bigger following because they do great work? Have you ever felt that way about something yourself? That highlights the importance of touchpoints, the First Moment of Truth, and customer experience. Companies in these situations need better branding – and are actively losing business without it.
Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself choosing between two similar products before and not understood why you picked the one you did. Take a step back and think about why you did. What about that product stood out and made you buy it?
When considering branding or marketing for your business, you must think about how customers will perceive it. Take some time to put yourself in their shoes and take actionable steps to make the most out of the First Moment of Truth to secure more sales and a better brand reputation for your business.