Your customers will go through a variety of steps and interactions with your company on the way through their customer journey. Each of these customer touchpoints, or points of customer contact, have a strong impact on brand perception as well as the customer experience.
Mapping these touchpoints can improve customer satisfaction and keep your buyers loyal to you for a long time to come. This guide will go through everything you need to do to map your customer touchpoints, create a complete customer journey, and optimize these touchpoints to improve the customer experience. Let’s get started!
What are customer touchpoints?
Customer touchpoints are interactions between your business and your customers that happen along the customer journey. These interactions can happen before, during, or after a customer makes a purchase from your company.
For example, your customers might find your website online, read some ratings or reviews to check if you’re a reputable business, shop at your ecommerce or brick-and-mortar store, and contact your customer service to report an issue. Each one of these actions is a customer touchpoint. And in any typical customer experience, there are many of them along the way from the beginning of the customer journey until the end.
Most customer journeys are actually longer than you’d think. It’s not just about making a yes-or-no decision on a single purchase, it’s about the ongoing relationship between your company and your customers.
Why should you map customer touchpoints?
In order to create a seamless, delightful customer experience from start to finish, you need to identify any current pain points for your customers along their journey. Mapping out every one of your customer experience touchpoints helps you capitalize on ways to optimize your complete customer experience.
While mapping out consumer touchpoints can be a long process, especially if you have a complex customer journey, it’s important. Your customers might love your products and think your customer service experience is great, but if your billing process is too difficult, that will have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. And you can’t fix those issues unless you are aware of them.
Mapping customer touchpoints is also vital so that you gain an understanding of how each department in your business affects the customer experience. While you already know exactly how your customer service reps and salespeople impact and interact with customers, you might not be clear on how back-office departments like finance and IT do the same. Bridging that CX gap across the organization is vital. We’ll get into more detail on this in the customer journey mapping section below.
How to identify customer touchpoints
Identifying customer touchpoints starts with creating a complete list of all the times customers might come into contact with your business and brand. These touchpoints can vary a lot depending on your business and industry–after all, the touchpoints for a B2B SaaS company will look a lot different than a container shipping company. But you certainly have at least a handful of them to consider.
Customer touchpoints have gotten considerably more diverse in the last few decades. While a previous typical touchpoint happened in person at a store, or via an in-person ad, now your brand can have dozens of online touchpoints for a single customer. That means you need to pay close attention to each one to see where pain points are happening that drive down customer satisfaction–it could be somewhere you didn’t expect.
Identifying your customer touchpoints is the first step to creating a complete customer journey map that details the customer experience from beginning to end. Creating a customer journey map will help your whole organization gain a deeper feel for the customer experience.
Common customer touchpoints
Your touchpoints can come in many forms: retail touchpoints from online or in-person shopping, digital touchpoints via your website or social media, marketing touchpoints like sales emails, and many more.
Here are 17 possible customer touchpoints examples for your business.
Touchpoints before purchase
1. Online ads
Banner ads on a website, ads on a search engine page, and paid posts on social media all fall under the category of online ads. And they’re how many customers come into your sales or marketing funnel and find your business. Customers might see ads in multiple places before they purchase, so be sure to count each ad strategy as its own touchpoint.
2. Digital marketing content
Any content your company publishes online to promote your brand falls under the umbrella of digital marketing. That could mean blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more.
3. Social media
While social media can be a touchpoint at any stage of the customer journey, it’s a very effective way to reach customers before they’ve made a purchase. You can use it to build a relationship with prospects, display your products, and enhance your online reputation and brand.
4. Company events
If your business holds in-person events, these are a great customer touchpoint. Events can be informational meetings, community events where your business is a sponsor, online events like webinars, and more. All of these types of events can introduce your business to new customers.
Touchpoints during the purchase process
Selling products online is a huge–and rapidly growing–part of the customer experience. In 2019, 1.92 billion people made a purchase online. And that was before the Covid pandemic brought a huge boom in online shopping that shows no signs of slowing. Ecommerce is too big for most companies to ignore, and customers have increasingly high expectations for the digital shopping experience.
6. Product reviews
Another large and growing area is online product reviews. Customers don’t need to research things before they leave the house to go make a purchase anymore––they can call up reviews right on their phones while they’re standing in your aisle. Some companies even include customer reviews right on the product listing page of their ecommerce site so customers can find everything in one place easily.
7. Conversations with company reps
While the digital experience is certainly growing, conversations with real humans at your company is still an important part of the purchase process for many customers. In-person interactions with reps at your store is an important customer touchpoint if you’re in the retail business.
8. Product catalogs
Catalogs might seem retro, but they’re not gone–they’re still effective for many retailers. Some catalogs have moved online to become part of the digital customer experience too. Creating enticing images of your products and writing compelling descriptions while removing as much purchase friction as possible can increase sales.
Your website is your digital storefront–your customers might be there during the purchase process to look at reviews, do any final research, or actually buy your offerings. Having a clear, compelling website with no bugs or frustrating pain points is essential for a smooth customer journey.
10. Point of sale
This is where the purchase actually happens–at your online checkout or your physical cash register, or where a sales rep clinches the deal. This can be the biggest step in the customer journey because it’s usually the biggest decision the customer will make.
Touchpoints after purchase
11. Thank you notes
Whether you’re sending an actual physical note in the mail or just a thank you email to customers after they make a purchase, this can be a lovely touchpoint. People like to be appreciated, even if they’ve just made one small purchase. Saying thanks can help build a strong customer relationship with your business.
12. Marketing emails
Once your customer has made one purchase, their needs don’t end. Maybe they could benefit from an additional product or service you provide that complements their new purchase, or perhaps they’re a likely candidate for an upgrade. Sending cross-selling or upselling emails can encourage another purchase.
13. Customer feedback surveys
Asking your customers what they think about their new product or their recent service can help yield actionable insights to improve the customer experience. Sending out customer satisfaction surveys to find out what’s working well and what needs fixing is easy with GetFeedback.
This isn’t a fun part of the customer journey––it’s actually a frequent pain point. Making your billing process as easy and seamless as possible might not make customers jump for joy, but at least they won’t be tearing out their hair or churning out of their next purchase.
15. Customer support channels
It happens even when you produce great, high-quality products––customers will experience problems at some point and need to talk to a customer service rep. While the purchase decision has already been made, a negative customer service experience can turn off a customer from making future purchases and lead to bad word-of-mouth reviews too.
16. Customer loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to reward customers for sticking with your company over the long haul. Referral rewards and loyalty discounts can keep customers coming around for years and singing your praises to their friends and family.
17. Self-service resources
Sometimes customers have a short question or a simple troubleshooting need they don’t want to have to talk to a customer service rep to solve. Creating a comprehensive library of resources that addresses common issues and needs post-purchase can help your customers find solutions on their own time and at their convenience.
Using touchpoints to create a customer journey
Your customers are purchasing your products or services because they’re trying to achieve a goal or fulfill a desire. The process they go through to reach those ends with your company is called a customer journey. You should create a customer journey map so you can see the role each department plays in each interaction with a customer.
Once you’ve created a list of every single customer touchpoint, you’re ready to start the process of creating your customer journey map. In this step, you’ll create a visual outline of the steps a customer takes during an interaction with your business.
Each step will include a description of the action the customer is taking, the goal they’re trying to achieve, and the emotion they’re feeling as they go through this step. You can divide these actions into stages of the customer lifecycle. One common way to do that in six parts is:
These steps might look different for your business, depending on your particular customer journey. You can customize them to your needs. Having this list of lifecycle stages will help you figure out which touchpoints happen when, and what they look like when they’re all put together to create a customer journey map.
We have a complete guide to creating a customer journey map so you can get in-depth info about this important step. This isn’t about the process from your end as a business. It’s all about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes: what does the process of becoming and being a customer look like from their eyes?
How to use your touchpoints map to gather customer feedback
Once your customer journey map is complete, it’s time to start finding those pain points along the way. This is where customer surveys are a key element of your success. Surveys leveraged across high-impact touchpoints can provide a clear view of what needs to change to improve your customer journey. If you already have a successful Voice of the Customer (VoC) program in place, this is the perfect time to put it to use.
You want to be sure that each touchpoint leads to a positive customer experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations. The best way to do this is to set up customer feedback surveys at each major touchpoint in the customer journey.
That could mean:
Running a post-checkout customer satisfaction survey via email.
Setting up a pop-up website survey that asks customers what they like and don’t like about your website.
Including a survey widget with your customer service chatbot that asks customers to rate the help they just received.
There’s a survey feedback option for each touchpoint, but that doesn’t mean you need one for every touchpoint. After all, you probably have at least a dozen touchpoints––you’d survey your customers into a very annoyed state! Instead, start by focusing on what you think might be the major pain points during your customer journey so you can fix the big problems first.
If you’re not sure where to begin, open-ended feedback survey questions can be a good place to start. Asking customers what the one thing is they’d change about your customer service, website, or purchase process can yield some direction for your more detailed survey efforts.
And the process of surveying customers about their pain points in their journey doesn’t need to be a one-time thing. You can begin by focusing on one stage of the customer lifecycle, set up detailed surveys so you get valuable feedback, make needed changes, and move onto the next pain point. Optimizing your customer experience is an ongoing process.
Optimizing consumer touchpoints in the customer journey
Once you know what’s going wrong from your customers in their journey, you can start to fix issues and optimize your overall customer experience. Combing through your feedback survey responses should give you some clear patterns of pain points in your customer touchpoints.
Keeping that customer journey map handy, look at the experience in a touchpoint that’s causing friction and see what actions, emotions, and roles are involved. Could this problem be solved with better training for reps, more advanced technology, clearer communication, or a proactive approach instead of a reactive one?
Once you’ve decided what changes to make, don’t just set it and forget it. You should still be surveying customers about that touchpoint to see if your changes made a positive improvement. Ongoing customer feedback will help you stay in touch with the customer experience at every stage of the customer lifecycle, while ensuring your changes are effective.
If your changes didn’t make a positive impact, then that’s ok––you tried something new, and now you can try something else without investing too much time into an unhelpful solution. If it did work, great! Onto the next pain point until your customer journey is like a smooth, pleasant stroll through a sunny meadow.
Managing Your digital customer experience
The most critical part of managing your digital customer experience is getting actionable, valuable feedback from your customers themselves. You need a complete customer experience platform that helps you understand what your customers are feeling, why they’re feeling that way, and what you can do to increase their satisfaction.
GetFeedback is a complete solution that makes collecting customer feedback at any touchpoint simple. That means you get the information you need to take action and build an exceptional customer experience faster. Plus, it lets you get your feedback programs up and running in days, not weeks.
Learn how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.