July 2nd, 2013:

Why Every “Touch Point” Counts in Customer Service

What is a “touch point”? A touch point is every occasion when your customer sees or hears your name, logo or ad, visits you on-line or in person, or any point during the transaction from beginning to end.

The two reasons you must understand touch points are:

  1. A Service breakdown can happen at any touch point, resulting in loss of customers; and
  2. Analyzing touch points will help you recognize where you “add value”; delighting customers results in attracting and keeping more customers.

Exploring both of these issues and how to manage every touch point can improve your company tenfold. Having long periods of sustained competitive advantage no longer applies in our technological era, and with fewer and fewer touch points where a human being is involved, service better be great! We as humans are still analog – not digital beings – and we want great service. However, training budgets have been cut to the bare bones, and although companies “build” things to improve a touch point, they often don’t train their employees how and why they did it or even how to implement it. A new menu and remodeled storefront may look great, and “re-branding” with new logos and website may revitalize things to a degree, but if employees don’t understand “why” in context of each touch point, they will continue to do the same thing, or ignore the way the new item was meant to interact with the customer. Exploring touch points is where “things” meet “people”.

Examples of touch points for an airline:

  1. Choosing the carrier (usually on-line these days): finding the route, date, convenient time/connection and pricing. Then looking at reviews or just past experience.
  2. Check In counter: Easy to find and clearly marked, with efficient queue management and seat selection. Now with on-line check-in and no checked bags, customers can miss this touch point altogether, so there is no room to delight or add value here.
  3. Security: Airline has notified customers about liquids/gels and other restrictions as well as time allowances to clear security.
  4. Retail options in their selected airports: since many flights no longer provide reading material, beverages and food, conveniently located retail outlets are actually another touch point (if a customer chooses to take that route) -they avoid bad airports.
  5. Boarding lounge (efficient and organized) or Business class lounges.
  6. Boarding process: Friendly announcements about organizing times to board and who may board first, second, third.
  7. In-flight services from seating to food and beverage service, etc.

I could list many other touch points, but I recommend every department or division in a company do this:

  • get a whiteboard and define all the touch points with their senior executive team
  • note possible service breakdowns
  • list reasonable solutions for items that could be proactively corrected, and
  • list solutions for those service breakdowns that are out of your control (what I call “one-offs”) and work with suppliers to see if they can or will provide a fix.

Also look at touch points for “value add” opportunities; they are often very cost-effective. For example, WestJet simply tells jokes at the point of boarding, which often brings a chuckle or a smile (value-add) – and they typically bring along a repeat customer.

The goals in every customer touch point are to:

  1. Exceed expectations
  2. Delight
  3. Minimize disappointment

What used to delight becomes the norm very quickly. So be on the lookout to “Create New Value Add or Wow Moments” and keep your brand promise.

If your company needs a one-day facilitated session on analyzing touch points, send us an email today. info@elaineallison.com

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