Mapping and analyzing the customer journey is common practice for most marketers. Each point along the customer journey, from a customer’s first contact with a brand (maybe through an ad or word of mouth) to a parting interaction, is identified and analyzed as a “customer touchpoint.”
Generally, touchpoints are assessed and improved on a case-by-case basis. Take the example of a supermarket checkout – a quintessential customer touchpoint. Most supermarkets and retail stores have taken time to maximize the checkout process in order to create a great customer experience, potentially upsell and make the process time-efficient. This is great! However, many businesses get tunnel vision and forget to ask themselves questions about the bigger picture of the customer touchpoints. How do all the pieces fit together? Does the journey make sense? What parts of the customer journey are unnecessary? Next time you’re looking at your organization’s customer journey, consider the following:
Flow of Touchpoints
Touchpoints need to make chronological sense to the consumer. For example, when a customer has just purchased, they should be getting an email about how satisfied they are with their purchase, or information about how to get the best use out of their product. Or, when a consumer is considering making a purchase, they should be getting deals and reasons to buy. Imagine the opposite – you just purchased a hot tub, are trying to figure out how to get it installed, look in your email inbox, and see an advertisement for the hot tub you just purchased. Having chronologically-confused touchpoints makes consumers feel like the brand doesn’t care about them. Similarly, it fails to make important connections that help the customer and establish brand loyalty. One touchpoint should flow into another in a sophisticated, time-sensitive and logical manner.
Understanding Various Customer Paths
Different customers have different journeys and interactions with a brand. Let’s use the example of a hot tub again. A customer who is buying a hot tub for their lodge vacation home will have a significantly different set of expectations than a commercial real estate developer looking to purchase 50 hot tubs for a condominium complex. Both customers might work with the same hot tub vendor, but we have different customer journeys and needs.
Market research helps brands segment their different customers and audiences in order to understand anything from digital preferences to the actual products/services those different segments buy. By looking at different customer segments, brands can create unique customer journey maps for each type of customer. Additionally, very similar customers may still experience different customer journeys. This is especially true on the front end. One customer purchasing a hot tub may see an advertisement and move to purchase online by the end of the week. On the other hand, her neighbor may hear about the hot tub from her, contemplate buying one for her own backyard for months, and seek out a physical location to look at the tub before purchasing. These two neighbors may have similar demographics (age, income, location) but their customer journeys were very different (ad versus personal referral, purchasing within a week versus multiple months, purchasing online versus in-store). The world of customer journeys can be wide, and each individual route should be accounted for and perfected.
Cutting Unnecessary Interactions
Quite simply, if a customer touchpoint doesn’t add value, it should be eliminated. Customer interactions should be productive, informative, persuasive, or all of the above.
It’s worth noting that “necessary” is difficult to define. Present-day marketing strives for regular contact between brand and consumer, and most brands try to create a culture around the products/services they offer. In this sense, there are touchpoints that are simply meant to bring the brand closer to its customers (think about a content marketing “how-to” piece, where a brand that sells cooking products might show how to create a unique recipe). These touchpoints are still viable. However, any touchpoint that is redundant, wastes consumers’ time or doesn’t add value to the experience can and should be eliminated.