What are Touchpoints?

Summary: Touchpoints are interactions where customers, employees, and the brand intersect. They offer a purpose to guide, inform, nudge, or enable a customer or employee to move a service experience forward. Creating an inventory of your touchpoints can help you create a better Service Design strategy.

In short, they are vital in products and service systems, acting as the essential interaction points between customers and businesses. Whether it’s a mobile app facilitating food delivery, a website providing information, or a customer support call center offering assistance, touchpoints are value-rich exchanges that shape the customer experience.

Why Do They Matter?

Touchpoints trigger good interactions by being helpful, pleasant, clear, and empowering. In short, they deliver value. This might be intangible value but value nonetheless because customers can interact with a company through various channels, such as mobile apps, websites, live chats, social media, emails, and call centers. This shift towards omnichannel interactions allows customers to choose the most convenient and efficient channels for their needs.

Customers expect consistency across all touchpoints, regardless of the channel they use. For example, if a customer starts their purchase journey on a mobile app and later switches to the website, they anticipate a seamless experience with the same product information and pricing. If speaking to a customer service representative is part of this flow, it should also be pleasant. Failure to deliver consistency can result in frustration and hurt the customer experience.

To be clear, touchpoints are essential to specify when creating your Service Blueprints— the plan of how the service comes together.

Neglecting the significance of touchpoints can adversely affect your Service Design process and the quality of your Service Blueprint. Poorly optimized touchpoints can result in customers encountering difficulties accessing information, receiving support, or making transactions, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. This, in turn, can result in customer churn, negative reviews, and damage to the company’s reputation.

Furthermore, overlooking touchpoints can lead to inefficiencies within the organization. For example, if the mobile app and website have different tooltips or user hints for a specific form field, users might enter incorrect information, leading to a call to the expensive call center to resolve the issue. Such inefficiencies not only waste resources but also hinder the overall customer experience.

What are touchpoints: mapping essential interactions

Touchpoints encompass a wide range of interactions that customers have with a business. These interactions can include accessing information, seeking help, seeking advice, receiving consultation, making purchases, or getting customer support. They occur at different stages of the customer journey, from pre-purchase research to post-purchase support. The significance of a touchpoint is in its ability to fulfill customer needs, preferences, and expectations, ultimately influencing their overall perception of an experience.

To make sense of your touchpoints, you will inventory them by conducting Touchpoint Mapping.

Channels vs. “Touchpoints”

It is crucial to differentiate between channels and touchpoints to optimize customer interactions effectively. Channels refer to the different communication platforms available to customers, while touchpoints represent specific interactions within a “moment” of time that occurs in those channels.

For instance, a retail company might have a mobile app, a website, a call center, and a physical store as its channels. Within each channel are touchpoints such as searching for products on the app, browsing the website, contacting customer support, or making a purchase in-store. Understanding the unique touchpoints within each channel and the moment of eg finding the right product is essential for providing a coherent and seamless service experience.

Touchpoints vs. Moments

Moments are periods of time happening in space (a store, at home, waiting, thinking, deciding). Within a moment are touchpoints. As this illustration shows, products or services involve the experiencing of moments through touchpoints, by personas, in channels…(image below source: Touchpoint mapping and cross-channel UX Masterclass).

touchpoints described as living in moments, and next to personas and within channels

Making a touchpoint effective and consistent at journey fulfillment across channels is crucial. This is because a customer touches up to 10 channels throughout a typical journey (Salesforce research 2018)>

What are touchpoints goals?

The goals are to provide interactions that are:

  • Smooth: Free from breaks, snags or convoluted steps.
  • Contextual: Placed at the right moment, time and place.
  • Appropriate: Relevant to the needs, goals and tasks a user is working on.
  • Supportive: Provide empowering and support toward a goal or task completion.
  • Delightful: Put a smile on customer’s faces and make the interactions with your brand pleasurable.

Conclusion

Touchpoints are the essential bridges between customers and businesses. Their significance lies in providing value-rich exchanges that fulfill customer needs and expectations. In the era of omnichannel interactions, optimizing touchpoints is crucial to delivering a seamless and satisfying customer experience. By understanding the customer journey, creating comprehensive touchpoint inventories, and continuously improving interactions, businesses can build strong customer relationships, enhance and drive success with Service Blueprint planning.

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