A touchpoint refers to every contact a company has with customers, non-customers, employees, and other stakeholders. These touchpoints can occur within the business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer markets. Contact can happen before, during, and after a transaction (typically a purchase). It is the sum of all these customer interactions with a company that ultimately creates or destroys brand value.

In a tough economy, marketing executives focused on return on investment (ROI) are trying to optimize the impact and cost-benefit ratio of every customer interaction. Nevertheless, there are two major challenges:

1.     Multimedia options and alternatives: A single communication channel cannot reach all targeted prospects. Transactions are made across several business divisions and over multiple media channels. They range from classic advertising to the Internet, call centers, sales staff at the point of sale, mobile marketing, or even social media alternatives.

2.     Organizational complexity: Companies operate in functional and divisional silos. Customers experience companies horizontally, across organizational boundaries, but most companies approach customer interaction on a functional or divisional basis. The silos are typically not integrated.

Surprisingly, many organizations are not aware of all the touchpoints that customers have with their company. Even more surprising is the fact that many organizations are uncertain about whether certain touchpoints are effective and why. By mapping these touchpoints, companies can measure how effectively their brand, marketing, and customer experience investments support overall strategies and objectives, while determining the extent to which customer needs are met.

Printed documents play an essential role in customer relationships. Estimates are that print still accounts for 95% of all interactions, even in this digital age where hard copy newspapers have become almost obsolete. Marketers and business executives know that transaction documents get through to consumers in an age of information overload. InfoTrends’ Trans Meets Promo multi-client study indicates that 95% of transaction documents get opened and read, and that the average consumer spends two to three minutes reviewing each transaction document. The real challenge in today’s market is learning how to use the transaction document touchpoint more effectively.

It Starts with Customer Touchpoint Management

While customer touchpoints extend beyond print, documents are still the most critical component in overall customer communications. Analyzing customer document touchpoints uncovers powerful customer insights, opportunities for improved delivery, and substantial cost savings. The overall objectives of document touchpoint analysis are:

  1. The elimination of redundant touchpoints to save valuable resources
  2. Enhanced conversion rates through the effective utilization of touchpoints
  3. Improved customer loyalty and advocacy
  4. Better customer service
  5. Increased brand equity

Understanding Document Touchpoints

The case for effectively managing customer touchpoints is compelling. While printed correspondence is only one component of the multi-channel relationship that companies have with customers, documents are tangible and represent the easiest way to get started with touchpoint analysis. TransPromo offers an ideal opportunity to integrate informational, marketing, and loyalty content with a document that is going to be opened by the recipient. There are seven critical steps in building a document touchpoint analysis:

1. Establish a Cross-Functional Team

To begin managing customer document touchpoints, organizations must have a clear understanding of exactly how they are communicating with customers. This means that all functions within the organization need to cooperate, and the organization itself must be aligned. To advance a project internally, a project sponsor with the required seniority needs to be appointed. A cross-functional team must be established with representatives from marketing/branding, customer service, IT, and operations. If the company has multiple divisions, marketing/branding resources from each division need to actively participate.

2. Identify the Touchpoints

To more tightly control contacts between companies and customers, eliminate redundancy, and optimize effectiveness, all touchpoints must be identified at the outset. How and where do you communicate with customers? For example, the initial customer relationship with an insurance company starts with some form of direct mail, one-to-one marketing. Once a client has awareness and knowledge about a firm, the agent provides a proposal. If the company is selected, the client receives a policy. Invoices, statements, and explanations of benefits are distributed annually, and ongoing correspondence is required to communicate any changes in coverage. The client may initiate a claim against the policy, and good communication and response is essential to delivering value, increasing loyalty, and building trust. Transaction documents and correspondence also create the opportunity to cross-sell additional lines of business. In today’s market, firms are trying to convert loyal customers into advocates. They are implementing programs that provide loyal customers with incentives for referrals.

From awareness to advocacy, all the activities within the customer relationship lifecycle require some form of document interaction (print or electronic) with the client. Organizations must establish a baseline for examining each document communication across the customer relationship cycle.

Figure 1: The Customer Relationship Lifecycle (CRL)

(Graphic from MCorp)

3. Prioritize the Touchpoints

The next step is to analyze which interactions matter most to customers as well as the company. Organizations must determine which communications are most important to clients and how these can be leveraged to optimize the relationship for mutual benefit. Companies must use these touchpoints to deliver effective communications that drive clients closer to their sphere of influence.

With touchpoints clearly identified, companies can seek opportunities to integrate essential communications as well as eliminate unnecessary correspondence and redundancy. Companies must also assess the right delivery channel for specific clients. While some statements and compliance communications are required by law to be delivered in printed form, customers might prefer to receive other correspondence electronically.

4. Link Touchpoints to Customers Using the Right Message and Right Media

It is important to recognize that not all customers are equally important to current and future revenue growth. In a challenging economy, marketers must focus on customers that are currently the most profitable or have the potential to become so in the future. This means that touchpoint analysis must be linked to data segmentation and customer lifecycle analysis. Most organizations are surprised by how much relevant data they have stored away in customer relationship management, customer service, and finance systems. An assessment of what data is available or needs to be acquired to more effectively communicate with the most profitable opportunities must be conducted before firms can enter the implementation phase.

5. Implement Touchpoint Mapping®

Touchpoints are the marketing levers that move customers from one stage of a relationship to the next. The key to success is not the number of touchpoints, but the effectiveness of the communication that is driving the relationship. Organizations must evaluate baseline communications results and lay out a new touchpoint map that evaluates the strategic interactions with a client from awareness to customer service through advocacy. The mapping must ensure appropriate targeting and relevance. Specific objectives/metrics must be established for each touchpoint. This may involve cross-selling or up-selling in some instances, while in others it may involve leveraging customer service information to enhance the relationship with a client. A good map offers the ability to measure the effectiveness of specific strategies related to the achievement of business objectives.

6. Establish Measurement Metrics for Each Touchpoint

Measurement metrics must be established for each touchpoint. Customer retention is key in some cases, but the priority in others is expanding the relationship and driving more revenue from the existing customer base.

7. Learn and Adapt

Building a touchpoint analysis is a journey, not a destination. The dynamics that are occurring in the world of media will change the options for effective communication with customers. Moving forward, effective communication will require ongoing reviews and refinements. Marketers must continually measure, learn, and adapt.

TransPromo…an Ideal Starting Point for Understanding Customer Touchpoints

While customer communications cut across call centers, the Internet, telemarketing, and face-to-face selling, TransPromo is an ideal starting point. In a difficult economy with pressure for bottom-line results and reduced marketing budgets, TransPromo creates tremendous potential for substantial savings as well as improved marketing efficiency.

Understanding and effectively leveraging customer document touchpoints is a complex issue based solely on the number of departments involved, but it is time for organizations to get beyond that. Organizational complexity cannot be the barrier.

We know that hard copy documents still represent 95% of customer communications and that transaction documents actually get opened and read. It’s time to assess what is being communicated to customers, eliminate redundancy, and harness the energy of transaction documents. Whether printed or electronic, transaction documents represent a touchpoint that can have a positive impact on revenue growth and profitability. Companies that are serious about marketing efficiency and effectiveness in a tough economy must start by leveraging the TransPromo touchpoint.


Touchpoint Mapping® is a registered trademark of MCorp Consulting. All rights reserved.