If you conduct a quick Google search of “customer touchpoint mapping” you’ll be gobsmacked with a large array of colorful graphics regarding customer points of engagement analysis. Every organization, either for-profit or nonprofit, large or sole proprietor, can benefit from touchpoint marketing.
So, what is it?
Hank Brigman of touchpointguru.com, one of the initiators of this customer experience concept, defines a touchpoint as an influential action initiated by any type of communication that reaches a customer during the customer’s life cycle. These actions are the way an organization interacts to gain, optimize, or expand its audience. Brand touchpoints reflect customer needs and brand positioning through an experience cycle. Mapping the customer journey can be the “success secret” for a business.
Examples of branded touchpoint platforms are widespread and diverse. Examples include public relations activities, trade show exhibitions, award program sponsorships, advertising (radio, television or internet), social media — including search engine optimization, content and blogs — sales processes, loyalty programs and more. Even word-of-mouth recommendations are touchpoints.
For some organizations, like Owings Mills-based Irvine Nature Center, identifying touchpoints for the customer may literally be the physical touchpoints the guest experiences at the nearly 200 acres of trails. In that case, trail map messages are valuable for the brand experience. If you delve in college, nursing home or hospital admissions, such physical touchpoints for your student or patient/guest are significant ways to make an important first and lasting impression and should routinely be mapped.
However, the branding touchpoints collectively are what bring people to your site or organization initially. The full brand experience is really the essence of successful touchpoint marketing.
The touchpoint map
The mapping process is your important effort to outline each interaction a customer has with your brand from the time they first hear about you. To create a touchpoint map, conduct a brainstorming session with access to a large black or white board. The process should be interactive and involve relevant team members. This could be a good retreat effort for a group. Colorful markers should be used to help you visualize the processes you use to gain and keep clients or customers.
Depending on your organization, the illustration you create may be a straight-line process or cyclical. Some items may be unique, while others overlap. Since you generally want repeat customers, a straight line may not be your final design but may be a helpful step in the process.
An advanced review of charts from other organizations may also be helpful, and there are numerous professional software programs for guidance. In early May, NGdata.com posted its list of the 50 best available programs.
As you map your own touchpoints, take the time to review your branding messages and graphics for continuity as you would for a formal marketing audit. You can even assess costs and quantifiable benefits if time allows. Discussions of guests/customer positive experiences and the need to eliminate the negative ones are important and inevitable parts of this process.
Once your touchpoint map is created, it should be shared with a broader group to see if you missed anything — every level of staff could have valuable contributions. The final map is a useful tool to understand your overall organization and should be circulated among all staff and owners and even distributed at employee orientations.
The goals of the touchpoint marketing process are to understand how you achieve customers, improve service, and obtain loyalty and repeat business. Touchpoint mapping is a valuable marketing exercise for an organization and a process that should be included as part of your functional market plan.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Marketing & Strategic Communications and can be reached at [email protected]