Businesses are disappointing customers at an astonishing rate. According to research51% of customers say the majority of companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences. Yet mantras, mottos, and mission statements across corporate America are all about being “customer-centric” and “delighting the customer.” So why are so few actually hitting the mark?

The answer—touchpoints.

What Are Customer Touchpoints?

Customer touchpoints are any point of contact between you and your customers. This includes interactions like email marketing, text messages, website visits, in-store experiences, and more. For local businesses, these interactions are increasingly digital. The best customer journeys seamlessly blend online and offline touchpoints for one cohesive experience. The first step in creating a world-class customer journey is to identify each touchpoint.

The Happy Path

In a previous post, we explained how to create a customer journey, or a map of every interaction customer’s have on their path to purchasing from you. But you don’t need an exhaustive list of touchpoints to get started. In software engineering and information modeling, they often focus on the happy path, or a default scenario featuring no exceptional or error conditions. In terms of our customer journey, the happy path would be the path most customers take in order to make a purchase.

For a lot of local businesses, the touchpoints in their happy path would look something like this:

  1. Google search
  2. Website visit
  3. Phone call / Webchat
  4. In-store visit
  5. Purchase

If you’re unsure what your typical customer’s journey looks like, start at the bottom, with sales, and work your way up.

  1. Where do most of my sales come from? (In-store purchases)
  2. How do most customer’s find my store? (Phone call / Webchat)
  3. Where do most customer’s find my phone number? (Website/Google My Business)
  4. How do most of my website visitor’s find my website? (Google Search)
  5. What search terms are people using to find me in Google Search?

Now that we have a basic idea of our customer journey, we can start listing out individual touchpoints that customer’s would experience on their path towards purchasing.

  1. Google search
    1. Google Local 3-pack
    2. Google My Business Page
  1. Website visit (Mobile)
    1. Homepage
    2. Locations Page
    3. Phone call
  1. Phone call / Webchat
  1. In-store visit
    1. Window display
    2. Employee greeting
    3. Line
    4. Checkout
  1. Purchase
    1. Receipt
    2. Follow-up (email/text)

Once you’ve listed out all of the touchpoints, you can begin analyzing each one to create a more cohesive customer journey. Here are some questions you might ask about each step in order to create a more compelling experience:

  1. Google Search
    1. Google Local 3-pack – Does my business show up here?
    2. Google My Business Page – Do my GMB photos & description match my brand?
  2. Website visit (Mobile)Is my website optimized for mobile?
    1. Homepage – What information is prioritized above the fold and in the navigation?
    2. Locations Page – Is every location listed?
    3. Phone Call – Are phone numbers up to date?
  3. Phone call / Webchat – Would customers prefer to text?
  4. In-store visitHow easy to find is my business? Is our address correct in Google?
    1. Window display – What does the exterior of my business communicate?
    2. Employee greeting – How are customers greeted as they enter the store? What is the first thing customers see when they enter?
    3. Line – How easy is it to find what my customers are looking for?
    4. Checkout – Is it possible to simplify the checkout process or remove any steps?
  5. Purchase
    1. Receipt – Do we offer to text and email receipts in addition to paper?
    2. Follow-up – How do we encourage repeat customers?

Customer-centric

Creating a world-class customer experience requires you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and model each touchpoint around their needs. What do they want to accomplish when they search for your business? For example, If you’re a dentist, maybe your website visitors are wanting to schedule a cleaning. So you would want to enable Google Click-to-Message to enable faster communication and scheduling.

How you prioritize touchpoints will depend on you customer’s intent. There’s no magic formula that works for every type of business. While scheduling cleanings might be a priority for dentists, appointments might not be as crucial for an auto dealership.

Since purchasing a car requires much more research than visiting the dentist, car dealers would want to focus more heavily on optimizing their website messaging, or making it easy to chat with a sales rep online. The key to customer satisfaction is figuring out what your customers want to do, and making it as convenient as possible for them to accomplish it.

Feedback Loops

Hopefully, your customer’s journey isn’t a one-time experience. A great way to encourage repeat customers is to constantly improve each touchpoint. A feedback loop is a framework for constantly learning from your customers. By listening to their suggestions, either through customer surveys or reviews, you’ll know exactly what you need to improve. And by regularly tracking benchmark net promoter scores for your industry, you can always stay ahead of your competition.