So many people to survey so little time.
So is the case with customer experience (CX) market research. CX teaches us that surveying and learning from customers is not about one single survey but rather a combination of surveys which total up to a full picture of a customer journey.
The customer journey and CX is made up of a number of customer touchpoints.
What is a Customer Touchpoint?
A customer touchpoint is defined as any experience where your company interacts with a customer or potential customer as part of the customer experience (CX).
Now, I know what you might be saying. "Interact? We don't really interact with customers much anymore. Most of our business is done online."
The term "interact" has changed significantly over the years. In a digital age, "interact" can mean a great number of things. This can span from online experiences to app experiences. It can also mean a customer placing an order online.
Although the customer never truly interacts person-to-person with someone at your company they are still interacting with your brand. Regardless of whether they get frustrated with a telephone service rep or issues with the online ordering process, the result is the same.
A good interaction builds loyalty and a poor interaction harms loyalty no matter where or how the interaction takes place.
Customers interact with your company and brand around the clock. It's important to understand the impact of each of those customer touchpoints on loyalty.
How do you Define Customer Touchpoints?
In order to properly define all of the customer touchpoints, you must put together a journey map. This journey map is a step-by-step process your customers walk-through to complete a goal. Several journey maps might exist within your CX depending on department, product, or service.
Let's use the airline industry as an example. Here is a basic journey mapping exercise with some of the possible customer touchpoints when a customer flies on an airline to a destination.
Going online to review ticket fares
Booking tickets online
Receiving confirmation email for the booking
Checking in at the airline kiosk
Checking baggage with the airline rep at the counter
Going through security
Waiting area to board plane
Scanning ticket to walk down runway
Seating on the plane
Customer service for drinks, food and snacks
These are several of the customer touchpoints that will impact an airlines brand. Any points of frustration or situations that made the customer extremely happy could have a significant impact on your brand.
Now most of you are saying, "there is no way we could survey our customers on each of these touchpoints". Which is absolutely true.
Through journey mapping you need to prioritize which touchpoints are most relevant and make the most impact on your CX.
A recommendation here is to start your market research with a broad customer loyalty or satisfaction study which hits on several of these touchpoints. This starts by casting your net wide before getting to specific and measuring the wrong touchpoints.
A simple regression analysis or correlation will lend some insight into which touchpoints your company needs to further explore through individualized or transactional surveys.
Types of Customer Touchpoints
It's important to breakdown the types of customer touchpoints. The eludes to the point about digital versus non-digital interactions.
A physical touchpoint is just how it sounds. This relates to touchpoints where the customer interacts with a person. This doesn't necessarily mean face-to-face.
This physical touchpoint could be an online chat or phone conversation as well.
An example of a more traditional physical touchpoint would be a visit to bank or credit union to talk to a loan advisor or bank teller.
The digital touchpoint indicates no interaction with a representative. Some examples of this could include a customer browsing a website, placing an online order, visiting a social media page, or downloading an app. In a digital age, these digital touchpoints usually far outweigh the number of physical touchpoints in quantity.
Customers are interacting with your brand 24-7-365 online but may only talk to a representative once per year. Understanding the impact and value of digital touchpoints is critical to measuring the CX.
Digital touchpoints are typically far more frequent for customers.
Here are some examples of touchpoints you may want to consider creating transactional surveys for to measure your CX. It is important to work with a CX market research firm to help you develop a journey map and identify the customer touchpoints which have the most impact on the experience.
This is likely one of the biggest areas of focus for CX. Website experiences and user experiences (UX) have a major impact on a customer's willingness to do business with a company.
Here is the what, how, and why of user experience (UX) if you are interested in reading more.
This includes "stealth" prospects who visit your site around the clock. You don't know who they are, what their name is, or what company they work for. But they are leads visiting your site and making the determination on their own whether or not they want to do business with you.
You have no control over them placing a phone call to you, sending you an email or filling out a form. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to measure this touchpoint to ensure you are doing everything you can on your website or app to move prospects and customers to the next step towards your end goal (order, lead submission, etc.)
This can be addressed through a website survey (pop-up or static link) or through a general email survey sent to contacts where the survey solely focuses on the UX.
Customer Service Experience
This is another common touchpoint analyzed in CX. This is any interaction with a representative by phone, over email, or through chat. The CX survey aims to understand whether the customer had their questions answered, whether they were happy with the experience, and how much of an impact did it have.
In this situation a client typically emails a list of the prior day's contacts who had a chat experience or called customer service. In more advanced CX platforms, this can be integrated and automated through a system like Oracle or Salesforce.com.
The transactional survey is a short follow-up survey to understand how the experience went. It is important to survey respondents as quickly as possible after the customer service experience to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date feedback as possible.
Waiting 1-month after a call to customer service to survey a customer will result in a poor response rate and inaccurate results. Strike while the iron is hot and the experience is fresh.
This touchpoint is when someone places an order online, by phone, or in-person. The intent here is to explore the touchpoint from beginning the order placement to finishing the order.
This touchpoint relies heavily on customer effort score (CES). This KPI and metric is an up and coming measure in the market research industry. It measures how easy it is to do business with a company.
With the amount of business done online, it is critical to make the ordering process as easy as possible for customers. Any points of frustration or issues which evolve from a CX survey on order placement need to be addressed immediately. It's too easy to switch to another online competitor these days.
This order placement survey can also be completed through daily surveys (much like customer service surveys) and offers a number of opportunities to integrate the contact emails through Oracle.
Delivery of Shipment
Often an afterthought but important nonetheless to survey. After the order is placed, businesses often forget about follow-up. Surveying customers after a shipment has arrived will help obtain feedback and measurements on delivery time, accuracy of order, and other items.
These results can be tied back to some of the metrics on the customer service or order placement survey.
This email survey can be triggered once the shipment arrives. This is usually the final touchpoint transactional survey to help you understand and measure the final steps of the customer journey.
Email and online surveys offer you the best ROI. They are inexpensive, quick, and offer quality data. Many parts of your CX program will likely utilize online surveys. Wondering how online survey projects work? Watch this short video.
When determining which customer touchpoints to survey, it's no easy task. Several variables need to be considered based on your business model. The key is to think about the customer journey and engage in journey mapping exercises to first inventory the number of touchpoints a customer has.
Then I would recommend starting broad. Analyze the customer relationship as a whole to look for areas