BPA Featured Article

Customer Touchpoints Matter More Than You Might Think

March 27, 2017

Are you Inadvertently Creating Disloyal Customers?

Whether consciously or not, every time your customer brushes up against your organization they are giving you a rating. Truth be told, customers are rating you on every interaction they have with you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your monthly customer satisfaction reports are telling you the entire story of how your customers feel about you.

Monitoring customer touchpoints can actually give you a better read on customer satisfaction, customer engagement, and customer loyalty scores. Note that customer touchpoints might not even be human-to-human interactions. They can simply be the feeling they get when they see your ad in a mailing they receive, or when they are operating your product. 

The power of compelling customer touchpoints can be huge. But they are often unmeasured. 

Here’s an example of compelling customer touchpoints and how they drove the authors feelings of loyalty to the Apple (News - Alert) brand. This happened during a visit to our local Apple store when we needed to purchase a power cord for our laptop. 

When we walked into the Apple store, the first thing we noticed was that the “yellow-shirted” people (employees) actually outnumbered the customers in the store. Being pressed for time, this was very cool (Touchpoint 1). 

We immediately met two Apple employees holding iPhones. One greeted us, and then asked how they could help. We told him what we needed, and he immediately said, as he turned around, “follow me” (Touchpoint 2). 

We followed this enthusiastic associate to the back right of the store. He immediately selected our product, and explained that this power cord should be exactly what we needed. We took it, and he pulled out 

We followed this enthusiastic associate to the back of the store, where he selected our power cord, gave it to us, and pulled out his iPhone (News - Alert). He then asked, “What is your name?” He inputted our name, found our information, and followed up with, “Would you like this on the credit card we have on file?” We said yes. He then asked, “Would you like a hard-copy receipt, or would you like one sent to your email that we have on file?” We told him email was best. He then said, “Thanks . . . have a great day!” (Touchpoint 3).

We stood there speechless for a minute wondering what had just happened. The entire experience lasted no more than two minutes. And, by the way, where was the checkout line? And why didn’t the Apple employee ask to see our credit card, the signature on the back, and the three-digit code? How come he didn’t put our product in a bag? What happened to the little white receipt? Apparently, all non-value added touchpoint work. 

It was a brilliant experience. Despite paying premium prices, our loyalty for Apple products and the Apple brand skyrocketed and will likely take a long time to change. Do you think those Apple touchpoints were random? Think again. They were designed to happen that way.

Regarding the customer experience, Apple has a passionate point of view - why engage the customer in unnecessary activities when the core goal is to create unparalleled customer experiences that emphasize 1) a hassle free experience; at 2) lightning speeds; and delivered by 3) enthused and helpful employees. Apple simply designs customer touchpoints in a way that delivers on this three-pronged promise. 

Customer touchpoints can also be called moments of truth. Why? Whether you like it or not, customers leave with a renewed perception of the organization, with two outcomes the result: increased customer loyalty or decreased customer loyalty. The Age of Disruption hates the status quo and rarely allows it to stick around. Customers simply have too many choices today. 

Is your current customer experience random and something that has evolved subconsciously over time? Or have you proactively designed the customer experience to influence customer loyalty with clear and proactive customer touchpoints? 

When designing your touchpoints, start by simply asking the following question for each touchpoint: “what do we want our customer to know, feel, or do at this touchpoint?”

When it comes to something as important as the customer experience, and customer touchpoints, avoid random, and, like Apple, choose design.

Shane Cragun is a founding partner at SweetmanCragun, a global management consulting, training, and coaching firm. His passion is creating high performance excellence at the individual, team, organizational, and societal levels around the globe. Cragun has worked as an internal change agent within a Fortune 500 High Tech Firm, a line executive at FranklinCovey, and a global external management consultant. His projects have received prizes in the areas of leadership and change. He recently co-authored with Kate Sweetman, Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption, has presented a TEDx talk in Silicon Valley and has spoken at business conferences worldwide.

Kate Sweetman is a founding partner at SweetmanCragun. Sweetman was listed as an Emerging Guru with Thinkers50, and is co-author of the bestselling business book, The Leadership Code published by Harvard Business Press, as well as Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption with Shane Cragun. Her first-hand experience with world leaders, Fortune 100 organizations, and Asian multi-nationals provides a substantial foundation for insights that extend beyond borders. A former editor at Harvard Business Review, she has been published in HBR, Sloan Management Review, Boston Globe, and the Times of India, and has appeared on CNBC in the U.S. and India. She is also a coach and visiting lecturer at MIT’s (News - Alert) Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship. 

For more information, please visit www.sweetmancragun.com and connect with the authors on LinkedIn and Twitter (News - Alert).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi