Customer journeys look at each step of the buying experience from the customer’s point of view, including their goals, actions, questions, and barriers. It’s your job to support the customer during their journey, specifically at the touchpoints – any point when the customer interacts with the brand.
The 4 Basic Touchpoint Categories
In general, a touchpoint will fall into one of four categories:
- Products or services, often including a website because it’s integral to servicing customers. (However, if the website is used solely for marketing, it belongs in the “Messages” category.)
- Two-way interactions when self service isn’t used, including in-store visits, phone calls, website chats, forums, and social media communications.
- Messages, meaning one-way communication. This includes branding, advertising, packaging, manuals, and the out-of-the-box experience. Items that fall into this category establish branding and the voice, and also explain the product or service.
- Settings, as in the locations where the product is seen or used. This includes a store, a person’s home, product placement on TV, or featuring the product at events. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is a difficult touchpoint to manage because brands are losing influence in where and how products are presented.
The Negative Experience
Sometimes a touchpoint happens during a negative experience. In the car insurance industry, for example, when a customer gets into an accident it’s a traumatic time for the driver and the touchpoint – filing a claim – can be complicated. This is also a risky time for the insurer because they have to be wary of fraudulent claims. Progressive insurance redefined this experience – they now show up at the accident scene in white vans. Thanks to this change, the customer feels supported by Progressive and the risk of fraud is reduced – the experience has been improved for both parties. Negative experiences present opportunities to invent new kinds of touchpoints.
How Touchpoints Support Each Other
Touchpoints aren’t isolated experiences – instead, they’re coordinated and integrated, part of the whole user experience. There needs to be both horizontal and vertical coherence throughout the customer journey. Horizontally, the customer goes through each step of the journey (engage, buy, use, share, complete); vertically, there are touchpoints at each of these steps. Each touchpoint has to work for the customer without hindering the flow of the journey.