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Understanding Touchpoints and
Your Customer Relationship Lifecycle
How Touchpoint Mapping
®
can help you increase
acquisition, boost retention, and drive brand loyalty
by moving more of the right customers closer
to your organization.
A deep understanding
of touchpoints can
improve customer
experiences, strengthen
relationships, and boost
your bottom line.
White Paper
Key Issues:
1. What are the most effective
ways for organizations to drive
key audiences closer and boost
advocacy?
2. How do organizations
emphasize and sequence
touchpoints to increase
customer acquisition and
retention?
3. How can a better
understanding of the customer
relationship lifecycle increase
the efficacy and ROI of brand,
marketing, sales, and customer
experience initiatives?
Overview: Improving the quality
of customer relationships
What marketers can learn through a deep
understanding of touchpoints and how they
impact their company’s unique customer
relationship lifecycle.
Every organization has stakeholder
relationships that impact performance
and are key to achieving goals. These
relationships can include customers
(both current and prospective), employees,
suppliers, partners, media, investors,
government, and others.
While some organizations struggle with
customer churn and low growth, others
seem to naturally draw their key audience
groups closer—cementing loyalty, driving
retention and word-of-mouth referrals, and
enjoying consistent growth year after year.
These organizations have a steady
supply of new customers; attract and
retain the best employees; develop
beneficial, long-term partnerships with
suppliers; are media darlings; have
positive and constructive relationships
with their investors; and have a productive
relationship with governmental agencies
and officials.
How do they do it? In this white paper,
we’ll show you how.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 1McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Understanding the relationship between
your customers, your touchpoints, and your
relationship lifecycle
An explosion in the number
of touchpoints has greatly
increased the complexity of
customer relationships
The constantly changing space between you
and your customers is comprised of those
places where you “touch” or interact with
your customers. These interactions are the
foundation of customer experiences and
relationships. In terms of perception, your
organization is the sum of your touchpoints.
Touchpoints are all the interactions that
your company’s audiences experience
over their relationship with your company.
Digital, human, or static—the number
of these touchpoints is increasing
exponentially, with digital leading the pack.
Fueled by always-on, digitally connected
customers; personalization; and
customization, the fragmented nature
of today’s omnichannel experiences
makes it even more difficult for marketers
to effectively track their company’s
interactions with key audiences.
Focusing on the “right”
customers
This increase in touchpoints makes
acquiring and retaining customers more
complex—and more important—than ever.
And as this complexity increases, the time,
expense, and skill required of companies
selling to and serving these customers
increases as well.
Touchpoints:
All the physical and
communication interactions
(static, human, and digital)
your customers experience
during their relationship with
your company.
Customer
Experience
Brand
Blogs
Mobile
Email
Social Media
Web
Digital
Touchpoints
(Multi-Directional)
Static
Touchpoints
(One Way)
Human
Touchpoints
(Bi-Directional)
Promotion
Direct Mail
Communications
Products
Advertising
Service
Call Center
Sales
Support
Management
Static, human, and digital touchpoints define
your brand and drive your customer experience.
Touchpoints occur every time customers come into contact
with or ‘touch’ your brand and anything associated with it.
Individually, sequentially, and in groups, these touchpoints define
the landscape between the customer’s world and yours.
At the same time, customer experience is
more involved and important than ever—
fueling acquisition, driving word-of-mouth
referrals, and ensuring retention of the
right customers (or pushing them away).
The first step towards moving audiences
closer to your organization is to understand
where and how each experience influences
your success. Companies that understand
and systematically review the unique
journey of each customer segment enjoy
higher loyalty, stronger brands, and more
profitable relationships.
These companies have another secret
as well. They monitor and improve the
touchpoints that customers encounter as
they interact with their company, improving
experience along the way.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 2McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Touchpoints encountered through your
lifecycle define the territory where your
customers and organization interact.
Utilize touchpoints as marketing
and customer relationship levers
Every point of contact or communication
between your organization and your
customers—online and off, in-person or
not—is a touchpoint. And touchpoints
are crucial in driving customers through
the lifecycle. They also shape customer
attitudes (like dissatisfaction, satisfaction,
loyalty, and advocacy).
Ranging from brand, marketing, and call
centers to web sites, point-of-purchase,
sales tools, and more, each and every
touchpoint drives audience perceptions,
actions, and relationships—both positive
and negative. Simply put, effective
touchpoints move customers closer to your
organization. Ineffective touchpoints push
customers away.
Consciously guiding customers to and
through your touchpoints while using them
as levers to influence perception and
action results in increased engagement as
customers are drawn through the lifecycle,
ever closer to your company.
Understand and capitalize on
your customer relationship
lifecycle
With revenue as a driver, most companies
focus primarily on their customers. Those
they have, those they want, and those they
don’t want. The better you understand the
importance and characteristics of your
unique customer lifecycle, the easier it
is for you to increase the effectiveness
of branding, marketing, and customer
experience investments, while driving the
right customers closer.
Every customer relationship begins with
discovery—the first of the five stages that
make up the lifecycle. Progress through
these stages is often sequential, but an
individual may skip stages or even reverse
to prior stages. And while the stages might
look slightly different depending on your
business, the overall lifecycle is usually
consistent.
Understanding your lifecycle and
the sequence of touchpoints
encountered along the way, will
drive more of the right customers
closer to your company
Simply put, customer wants and needs
drive their actions throughout the
lifecycle. At the same time, barriers to this
progression exist that affect perception
and customer experience. When properly
planned, implemented, and sequenced,
your touchpoints have the power to remove
these barriers and effectively address
customer wants and needs.
In each stage of the lifecycle, you have
the opportunity to meet these needs. Or
you can leave them unfulfilled, unwittingly
erecting barriers to progress along the way.
Through a deep understanding of the
lifecycle unique to your organization, as
well as the touchpoints encountered as
your customers move through it, you will
have the framework for moving customers
closer—increasing awareness, retention
and profitability as a result.
The Customer Relationship Lifecycle
Companies that understand their customer relationship lifecycle
constantly work to identify and improve the multiple touchpoints
encountered in each stage. Looked at both individually and in groups
from the perspectives of value, efficacy, function, sequence, etc.,
touchpoints are the key to driving more of the right customers through
your lifecycle and closer to your organization.
By knowing precisely how to successfully move prospects and
customers closer, the number, and quality of customers gained and
retained increases dramatically.
Discover
Choose
Use
Learn
Engage
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 3McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
On the following pages, we address
each stage of the customer relationship
lifecycle and some of the various needs,
barriers, and outcomes a company may
encounter as a prospect or customer
moves through these stages.
While we recognize that someone is a
prospect or a lead before purchase, this
lifecycle continues over and over after
the prospect becomes a customer. So,
we use the term customer throughout for
convenience.
Stage 1: Discover
In this stage, the customer realizes they
have a want or need, then sets out to find
a solution. Companies who want to capture
this opportunity have to create awareness
of their capabilities, so the customer can
learn about the offering.
Barriers to Discovery
ƒƒ Your organization isn’t known to the
customer—likely you’re not visible in the
right channels (poor brand recognition),
ƒƒ Customers know your company but don’t
know or remember you offer a product in
this market (poor brand recall), and
ƒƒ Inability to create mindshare among the
public and media (dominant competitors
or poor positioning).
Strategic Considerations
ƒƒ Identify and master the channels where
customers are looking for information,
ƒƒ Monitor perceptions of your brand within
your market, and
ƒƒ Know your competitors and their market
position in relation to yours.
Touchpoint Insight: Discover
Where is your audience looking?
There’s a tendency for companies
to focus too heavily on touchpoints
they directly control.
But we’ve seen many companies
boost awareness by focusing on
touchpoints they may not control
but can certainly influence. Social
media is a perfect example.
Listening to and engaging the
market beyond your own social
media properties—whether on
Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr,
or wherever—can dramatically
increase your brand recognition
and recall.
Even B2B companies have been
increasing their presence and
success on social sites that were
once considered strictly B2C (like
Facebook and Pinterest).
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 4McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Stage 2: Learn
This stage is where the customer gathers
knowledge about companies, products, and
services that can fill their want or need.
It can be passive, where the customer
absorbs information he or she is exposed
to in the media and through conversation.
Or it can be active, where customers seek
out specific knowledge that addresses
their need, using key criteria and ideal
attributes that they’ve identified.
Barriers to Learning
ƒƒ Failing to communicate the full range of
solutions that the product or service can
address;
ƒƒ Making the necessary information too
difficult to find or access; and
ƒƒ Publishing complex or confusing
information that’s hard to understand.
Strategic Considerations
ƒƒ Know what your customers want
and need in this stage, then provide
pertinent information that answers
questions quickly and easily; and
ƒƒ Ensure that your message, benefits,
and processes are clear, relevant, and
believable to your audience.
Touchpoints encompass
much more than traditional
marketing communications.
Touchpoint Insight: Learn
Understand what your target is
trying to learn
A non-profit needed to stand out
from a sea of competitive giving
opportunities, with research
revealing that knowledge of the
non-profit itself was very high, but
that specific benefits (that is, what
the non-profit accomplished with
the donations) were unknown.
As a result, brand spend was
shifted away from the goal
of creating brand awareness
and toward messaging that
communicated relevant results
of donor contributions to key
audiences.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 5McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Strategic Considerations
ƒƒ Understand your value proposition and
effectively explain it;
ƒƒ Be vigilant in uncovering customers’ key
criteria and hierarchy of needs, while
assuring them of your ability to perform;
ƒƒ Sequence marketing communications
and sales materials to support the brand
and address identified needs;
ƒƒ Provide a consistent experience across
all touchpoints, including all parts of the
sales process; and
ƒƒ Make sure you understand your
customer’s approval and evaluation
procedures, including key participants.
Touchpoint Insight: Choose
Understand barriers to purchase
For one commercial lender, we
discovered that a key touchpoint
in the selection process was the
application. Yet the gap in perform-
ance between the highest-value
customers and the rest was
significant.
Analysis showed that loan officers
filled applications out for their
best customers, while lower value
customers were left to their own
devices. Through simplification
of the application process, the
number of total applications
submitted increased by over 30%.
Stage 3: Choose
Here customers assess available solutions
against their hierarchy of needs, using the
information learned in Stage 2. Then they
make their purchase choice.
A prospect’s needs can be practical (such
as cost, timing, and relevant expertise);
personal (like status or relationship); and
even emotional (such as overcoming fears
or shortcomings).
It’s also important to note that various
non-product factors (internal and external)
can often lead to a choice other than your
company. Part of successfully navigating
this stage is realizing that you are
competing against many influences.
Barriers to Choosing Your
Company
ƒƒ Poor positioning, differentiation, or
pricing relative to competitors;
ƒƒ Brand personality or values don’t
reinforce ability to satisfy the customer’s
need;
ƒƒ Poor sales process experience;
ƒƒ Objections that have not been
uncovered or overcome;
ƒƒ Internal factors—e.g. company politics,
budgets, and shifting priorities;
ƒƒ External factors—e.g. the economy,
pending legislation;
ƒƒ Conflicting opinions from other spheres
of influence;
ƒƒ Indecisiveness or “no decision.”
Stage 4: Use
Once a customer has chosen your
product or service, your duty is to help
them understand and adopt it as part
of their routine, so they can proceed to
Stage 5 (Engage). In other words, you’re
onboarding the customer.
It’s critical at this stage to ensure there’s
a smooth transition. Dissatisfaction can
occur at any stage of the lifecycle, but you
especially notice it early in the use stage.
Barriers to Use
ƒƒ Mismatched expectations around
capabilities, ease of use, and
customer experience;
ƒƒ Poor performance from the product or
service itself;
ƒƒ Negative support interactions, like poor
communication, slow responses, and
unresolved issues.
Strategic Considerations
ƒƒ Emphasize touchpoints that prove the
distinct value you’re providing and create
stickiness;
ƒƒ Clearly understand customer
expectations, so you don’t make
promises you can’t keep;
ƒƒ Personalize or customize service
or offerings;
ƒƒ Implement customer listening tools for
proactive guidance and provide forums
for two-way communication; and
ƒƒ Identify and solve service delivery
problems before they happen.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 6McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Stage 5: Engage
Once your customer has acclimated to the
product or service, a new lifecycle stage
begins, where the focus is on getting and
keeping the customer engaged.
Your customers are constantly validating
their decision against ongoing and even
new needs. Feelings of dissatisfaction,
satisfaction, and loyalty are fluid—
especially in the early parts of the post-
purchase relationship.
Not only do you need to continue to
reinforce your value and brand promise,
but if you want to enjoy a long, stable
relationship, you need to foster loyalty.
Barriers to Engagement
ƒƒ Customer experience is inconsistent,
flawed, or unpleasant;
ƒƒ Your brand doesn’t align with perceived
or expected attributes and values;
ƒƒ Product or service performance either
declines or is perceived to decline; and
ƒƒ Changes to your product or company
processes adversely affect the
customer’s needs.
Strategic Considerations
ƒƒ Recognize that good customer service is
expected as a matter of course;
ƒƒ Realize that satisfied customers are not
necessarily loyal customers;
ƒƒ Always be improving your product and
services based on customer feedback;
ƒƒ Understand your unique loyalty drivers
and consistently deliver on them; and
ƒƒ Continually measure and improve
performance against key loyalty metrics.
Touchpoint Insight: Use
Identify dissatisfiers
Working with a large telecom
to understand why customer
satisfaction was so low—as
measured in the first 60 days
of service for small business
customers—we discovered a series
of interesting facts.
Though a total of 47 individual
touchpoints were deployed at
this stage, the average number
encountered by customers was
between 5 and 18, with an
average of 6 encountered in the
first 60 days of service.
Of these touchpoints, three were
redundant communications that
annoyed their customers and cost
significant sums of money.
As a result of our analysis, the total
number of touchpoints was reduced
by over a third, and the three
communications were combined
into one—boosting satisfaction, and
reducing costs by over $550,000 in
the first year alone.
A systematic approach to
managing the touchpoints that
drive customer experience will
increase loyalty.
Touchpoint Insight: Engage
Beware of satisfaction metrics
Across clients and industries,
we’ve seen the fallacy of tracking
satisfaction over loyalty first hand.
Take a typical bank that routinely
enjoys satisfaction scores in the
high 80% range, and reports this
information as a success metric.
Yet, research reveals that less than
one-third of this bank’s customers
would even consider it for their next
financial services product purchase.
More alarming, of customer
defections, over 60% of these
customers had surveyed as “very”
or “extremely” satisfied in the
tracking period prior to defection.
What gives?
The bottom line is that satisfied
customers are not loyal;
satisfaction is a middle ground
where you are in great danger
of losing customers if you don’t
actively attempt to move them to
loyalty.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 7McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Unlocking Advocacy and
Other Economic Benefits
Many customers never even reach a state
of loyalty, let alone transcend it. However,
deeply loyal customers have the ability to
become advocates. And advocates provide
significant benefit to your business,
ranging from price premiums and lower
service costs to greater usage.
Advocates will actively recommend
your product or service to friends and
colleagues, moving prospects through
early stages of the lifecycle on your behalf
(typically understood as word-of-mouth
marketing or “WOM”).
What influences advocacy
ƒƒ Having trust in your brand, company,
people, and products;
ƒƒ Comfort in recommending the
organization, product, or service;
ƒƒ Knowledge that the recommendation
reflects positively on them;
ƒƒ Consistent delivery against emotional
(soft) customer experience drivers; and
ƒƒ A highly fulfilling relationship between the
customer and the organization.
How you can encourage
advocacy
ƒƒ Know which emotional and functional
drivers are important to advocates;
ƒƒ Implement customer listening tools that
help identify, measure, and improve on
key attributes, experiences, and metrics;
and
ƒƒ Understand that loyal customers are not
necessarily advocates.
How to invest in customer
experience more intelligently
If you’re reading this whitepaper, there’s
a good chance your company already
segments customers by value. You know
what it costs to acquire different customers,
how much you’ll make over the life of each
relationship, etc. And it probably helps you
make sound budgetary decisions every day.
But what if you could do even better?
Smart, customer-centric companies segment
across two dimensions: value and needs.
They use ongoing customer feedback data to
identify wants, needs, and expectations. And
these insights, in turn, inform strategic and
tactical decisions like:
ƒƒ How to better structure the company to
serve customers;
ƒƒ Which customers to serve, through which
channels, and in what ways;
ƒƒ Where to position, enhance, or even
eliminate touchpoints; and
ƒƒ What specific experiences to deliver,
when, and to whom.
Putting it all together
Since touchpoints exist at every stage of
the lifecycle, needs-based segmentation
isn’t limited to just existing customers.
Properly sequenced, touchpoints serve
as “levers” that actively move customers
from one lifecycle stage to the next—before
and after purchase.
The key is not the number of touchpoints
deployed, but their ability to align with
customer needs, increase velocity through
the lifecycle, and drive customers closer
to your company.
The Touchpoint MetricsSM
that get measured will drive
customer experience results.
Customer Attitudes and the
Relationship Cycle
Understanding dissatisfaction,
loyalty, and advocacy
At every stage of the lifecycle,
customers are developing
impressions or attitudes about
your company.
Poor communication, service, and
experiences cause dissatisfaction
at any stage of the relationship,
from Discover to Engage.
On the other hand—and this is
where many companies miss the
mark—customers can display
loyalty and advocacy even before
they make their first purchase or
fully adopt the product.
So, try to always remember that
every stage of the lifecycle is full of
opportunities to bring customers
closer (developing loyalty and
possibly advocacy) or drive them
away (creating dissatisfaction).
Once you understand that, it
becomes much easier to optimize
your touchpoints and forge
stronger customer relationships.
Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 8McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx
Five steps for
leveraging touchpoints
to build and profit from
stronger customer
relationships:
1. Understand your customer
relationship lifecycle
Understand the stages of your customer
relationship lifecycle, by researching
audience needs, influencers, and
barriers to progression at each stage.
2. Improve customer experience
Map the touchpoints in each stage
to gain an understanding of the
experience they deliver from the
customer’s perceptive.
3. Optimize your touchpoints
Ensure that touchpoints address
specifically identified needs,
influencers, and barriers. Fix, add,
or remove touchpoints as needed to
meet your goals.
4. Focus marketing and customer
service spend
Focus your budget on those customers
and touchpoints that are most
effective at driving desired results
across key brand, marketing, customer
experience, and business metrics.
5. Measure and improve
Continually measure your success
across key metrics, analyzing,
monitoring, validating, implementing,
and improving the systems that
drive success.
Touchpoint Mapping®
: How to
understand your lifecycle and
the sequencing and efficacy of
the touchpoints in it
Few organizations have a thorough
understanding of the many ways in
which they interact with or “touch” their
customers. This lack of understanding
often extends to how these touchpoints
impact the perceptions and decisions
of customers and the quality of
resulting relationships.
While marketers enjoy myriad strategic
and tactical options, one of the greatest
challenges they face is the lack of a
vantage point from which to view them and
analyze their cumulative effect. When these
efforts are viewed through the lens of a
map—a map that charts all aspects of each
touchpoint in relation with a company’s
ability to move the prospect or customer
closer—then the effects become clear.
By mapping touchpoints, you can measure
how effectively your investments support
overall strategies and objectives, and how
well they do—or don’t—meet the needs of
your customers.
In conclusion
Moving customers along the customer
relationship lifecycle requires a deep
understanding of their specific needs,
influencers, and the barriers they may face
in each stage.
A commitment to understanding these
motivators and barriers is where you
can begin to identify the touchpoint
opportunities within each stage, and
actively speed progression through the
lifecycle unique to your organization.
Through this in-depth understanding, you
will have the knowledge to fix or eliminate
underperforming touchpoints or develop
new ones. You’ll see how your activities
can reduce cost, increase revenue, and
drive loyalty over time. As a result, you will
draw customers closer, improving brand
awareness, customer acquisition, and
retention, while solidifying your position in
a crowded marketplace.
© 2002–2015 McorpCX all rights reserved. Touchpoint Mapping
®
is a registered trademark of Touchpoint Metrics, Inc.
McorpCX is a leading customer experience services company delivering consulting
and technology solutions to customer-centric organizations since 2002.
Our practical approach has led to measurable growth, deeper engagement, and
better business outcomes for fast-growth market leaders and the Fortune 100,
including Microsoft, lululemon, T. Rowe Price, and Blue Shield of California.
Whether your organization is just beginning its customer experience journey or is
well down the experience transformation path, we are experts at driving customer
experience transformation in an increasingly connected world.
How might McorpCX help you?
To learn how we can help you better understand and connect with
your customers, visit www.mcorp.cx/contact or call 1-866-526-2655.
McorpCX is a leading customer experience
services company. For more than a decade,
our blend of strategic thinking and design
innovation has helped companies—from
fast-growth market leaders to the Fortune
100—transform products, services, customer
experiences, and internal processes in
exciting and profitable ways.
McorpCX
1-866-526-2655
www.mcorp.cx

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Understanding Touchpoints and Your Customer Relationship Lifecycle | McorpCX

  • 1. Understanding Touchpoints and Your Customer Relationship Lifecycle How Touchpoint Mapping ® can help you increase acquisition, boost retention, and drive brand loyalty by moving more of the right customers closer to your organization. A deep understanding of touchpoints can improve customer experiences, strengthen relationships, and boost your bottom line. White Paper
  • 2. Key Issues: 1. What are the most effective ways for organizations to drive key audiences closer and boost advocacy? 2. How do organizations emphasize and sequence touchpoints to increase customer acquisition and retention? 3. How can a better understanding of the customer relationship lifecycle increase the efficacy and ROI of brand, marketing, sales, and customer experience initiatives? Overview: Improving the quality of customer relationships What marketers can learn through a deep understanding of touchpoints and how they impact their company’s unique customer relationship lifecycle. Every organization has stakeholder relationships that impact performance and are key to achieving goals. These relationships can include customers (both current and prospective), employees, suppliers, partners, media, investors, government, and others. While some organizations struggle with customer churn and low growth, others seem to naturally draw their key audience groups closer—cementing loyalty, driving retention and word-of-mouth referrals, and enjoying consistent growth year after year. These organizations have a steady supply of new customers; attract and retain the best employees; develop beneficial, long-term partnerships with suppliers; are media darlings; have positive and constructive relationships with their investors; and have a productive relationship with governmental agencies and officials. How do they do it? In this white paper, we’ll show you how.
  • 3. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 1McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Understanding the relationship between your customers, your touchpoints, and your relationship lifecycle An explosion in the number of touchpoints has greatly increased the complexity of customer relationships The constantly changing space between you and your customers is comprised of those places where you “touch” or interact with your customers. These interactions are the foundation of customer experiences and relationships. In terms of perception, your organization is the sum of your touchpoints. Touchpoints are all the interactions that your company’s audiences experience over their relationship with your company. Digital, human, or static—the number of these touchpoints is increasing exponentially, with digital leading the pack. Fueled by always-on, digitally connected customers; personalization; and customization, the fragmented nature of today’s omnichannel experiences makes it even more difficult for marketers to effectively track their company’s interactions with key audiences. Focusing on the “right” customers This increase in touchpoints makes acquiring and retaining customers more complex—and more important—than ever. And as this complexity increases, the time, expense, and skill required of companies selling to and serving these customers increases as well. Touchpoints: All the physical and communication interactions (static, human, and digital) your customers experience during their relationship with your company. Customer Experience Brand Blogs Mobile Email Social Media Web Digital Touchpoints (Multi-Directional) Static Touchpoints (One Way) Human Touchpoints (Bi-Directional) Promotion Direct Mail Communications Products Advertising Service Call Center Sales Support Management Static, human, and digital touchpoints define your brand and drive your customer experience. Touchpoints occur every time customers come into contact with or ‘touch’ your brand and anything associated with it. Individually, sequentially, and in groups, these touchpoints define the landscape between the customer’s world and yours. At the same time, customer experience is more involved and important than ever— fueling acquisition, driving word-of-mouth referrals, and ensuring retention of the right customers (or pushing them away). The first step towards moving audiences closer to your organization is to understand where and how each experience influences your success. Companies that understand and systematically review the unique journey of each customer segment enjoy higher loyalty, stronger brands, and more profitable relationships. These companies have another secret as well. They monitor and improve the touchpoints that customers encounter as they interact with their company, improving experience along the way.
  • 4. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 2McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Touchpoints encountered through your lifecycle define the territory where your customers and organization interact. Utilize touchpoints as marketing and customer relationship levers Every point of contact or communication between your organization and your customers—online and off, in-person or not—is a touchpoint. And touchpoints are crucial in driving customers through the lifecycle. They also shape customer attitudes (like dissatisfaction, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy). Ranging from brand, marketing, and call centers to web sites, point-of-purchase, sales tools, and more, each and every touchpoint drives audience perceptions, actions, and relationships—both positive and negative. Simply put, effective touchpoints move customers closer to your organization. Ineffective touchpoints push customers away. Consciously guiding customers to and through your touchpoints while using them as levers to influence perception and action results in increased engagement as customers are drawn through the lifecycle, ever closer to your company. Understand and capitalize on your customer relationship lifecycle With revenue as a driver, most companies focus primarily on their customers. Those they have, those they want, and those they don’t want. The better you understand the importance and characteristics of your unique customer lifecycle, the easier it is for you to increase the effectiveness of branding, marketing, and customer experience investments, while driving the right customers closer. Every customer relationship begins with discovery—the first of the five stages that make up the lifecycle. Progress through these stages is often sequential, but an individual may skip stages or even reverse to prior stages. And while the stages might look slightly different depending on your business, the overall lifecycle is usually consistent. Understanding your lifecycle and the sequence of touchpoints encountered along the way, will drive more of the right customers closer to your company Simply put, customer wants and needs drive their actions throughout the lifecycle. At the same time, barriers to this progression exist that affect perception and customer experience. When properly planned, implemented, and sequenced, your touchpoints have the power to remove these barriers and effectively address customer wants and needs. In each stage of the lifecycle, you have the opportunity to meet these needs. Or you can leave them unfulfilled, unwittingly erecting barriers to progress along the way. Through a deep understanding of the lifecycle unique to your organization, as well as the touchpoints encountered as your customers move through it, you will have the framework for moving customers closer—increasing awareness, retention and profitability as a result. The Customer Relationship Lifecycle Companies that understand their customer relationship lifecycle constantly work to identify and improve the multiple touchpoints encountered in each stage. Looked at both individually and in groups from the perspectives of value, efficacy, function, sequence, etc., touchpoints are the key to driving more of the right customers through your lifecycle and closer to your organization. By knowing precisely how to successfully move prospects and customers closer, the number, and quality of customers gained and retained increases dramatically. Discover Choose Use Learn Engage
  • 5. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 3McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx On the following pages, we address each stage of the customer relationship lifecycle and some of the various needs, barriers, and outcomes a company may encounter as a prospect or customer moves through these stages. While we recognize that someone is a prospect or a lead before purchase, this lifecycle continues over and over after the prospect becomes a customer. So, we use the term customer throughout for convenience. Stage 1: Discover In this stage, the customer realizes they have a want or need, then sets out to find a solution. Companies who want to capture this opportunity have to create awareness of their capabilities, so the customer can learn about the offering. Barriers to Discovery ƒƒ Your organization isn’t known to the customer—likely you’re not visible in the right channels (poor brand recognition), ƒƒ Customers know your company but don’t know or remember you offer a product in this market (poor brand recall), and ƒƒ Inability to create mindshare among the public and media (dominant competitors or poor positioning). Strategic Considerations ƒƒ Identify and master the channels where customers are looking for information, ƒƒ Monitor perceptions of your brand within your market, and ƒƒ Know your competitors and their market position in relation to yours. Touchpoint Insight: Discover Where is your audience looking? There’s a tendency for companies to focus too heavily on touchpoints they directly control. But we’ve seen many companies boost awareness by focusing on touchpoints they may not control but can certainly influence. Social media is a perfect example. Listening to and engaging the market beyond your own social media properties—whether on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, or wherever—can dramatically increase your brand recognition and recall. Even B2B companies have been increasing their presence and success on social sites that were once considered strictly B2C (like Facebook and Pinterest).
  • 6. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 4McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Stage 2: Learn This stage is where the customer gathers knowledge about companies, products, and services that can fill their want or need. It can be passive, where the customer absorbs information he or she is exposed to in the media and through conversation. Or it can be active, where customers seek out specific knowledge that addresses their need, using key criteria and ideal attributes that they’ve identified. Barriers to Learning ƒƒ Failing to communicate the full range of solutions that the product or service can address; ƒƒ Making the necessary information too difficult to find or access; and ƒƒ Publishing complex or confusing information that’s hard to understand. Strategic Considerations ƒƒ Know what your customers want and need in this stage, then provide pertinent information that answers questions quickly and easily; and ƒƒ Ensure that your message, benefits, and processes are clear, relevant, and believable to your audience. Touchpoints encompass much more than traditional marketing communications. Touchpoint Insight: Learn Understand what your target is trying to learn A non-profit needed to stand out from a sea of competitive giving opportunities, with research revealing that knowledge of the non-profit itself was very high, but that specific benefits (that is, what the non-profit accomplished with the donations) were unknown. As a result, brand spend was shifted away from the goal of creating brand awareness and toward messaging that communicated relevant results of donor contributions to key audiences.
  • 7. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 5McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Strategic Considerations ƒƒ Understand your value proposition and effectively explain it; ƒƒ Be vigilant in uncovering customers’ key criteria and hierarchy of needs, while assuring them of your ability to perform; ƒƒ Sequence marketing communications and sales materials to support the brand and address identified needs; ƒƒ Provide a consistent experience across all touchpoints, including all parts of the sales process; and ƒƒ Make sure you understand your customer’s approval and evaluation procedures, including key participants. Touchpoint Insight: Choose Understand barriers to purchase For one commercial lender, we discovered that a key touchpoint in the selection process was the application. Yet the gap in perform- ance between the highest-value customers and the rest was significant. Analysis showed that loan officers filled applications out for their best customers, while lower value customers were left to their own devices. Through simplification of the application process, the number of total applications submitted increased by over 30%. Stage 3: Choose Here customers assess available solutions against their hierarchy of needs, using the information learned in Stage 2. Then they make their purchase choice. A prospect’s needs can be practical (such as cost, timing, and relevant expertise); personal (like status or relationship); and even emotional (such as overcoming fears or shortcomings). It’s also important to note that various non-product factors (internal and external) can often lead to a choice other than your company. Part of successfully navigating this stage is realizing that you are competing against many influences. Barriers to Choosing Your Company ƒƒ Poor positioning, differentiation, or pricing relative to competitors; ƒƒ Brand personality or values don’t reinforce ability to satisfy the customer’s need; ƒƒ Poor sales process experience; ƒƒ Objections that have not been uncovered or overcome; ƒƒ Internal factors—e.g. company politics, budgets, and shifting priorities; ƒƒ External factors—e.g. the economy, pending legislation; ƒƒ Conflicting opinions from other spheres of influence; ƒƒ Indecisiveness or “no decision.” Stage 4: Use Once a customer has chosen your product or service, your duty is to help them understand and adopt it as part of their routine, so they can proceed to Stage 5 (Engage). In other words, you’re onboarding the customer. It’s critical at this stage to ensure there’s a smooth transition. Dissatisfaction can occur at any stage of the lifecycle, but you especially notice it early in the use stage. Barriers to Use ƒƒ Mismatched expectations around capabilities, ease of use, and customer experience; ƒƒ Poor performance from the product or service itself; ƒƒ Negative support interactions, like poor communication, slow responses, and unresolved issues. Strategic Considerations ƒƒ Emphasize touchpoints that prove the distinct value you’re providing and create stickiness; ƒƒ Clearly understand customer expectations, so you don’t make promises you can’t keep; ƒƒ Personalize or customize service or offerings; ƒƒ Implement customer listening tools for proactive guidance and provide forums for two-way communication; and ƒƒ Identify and solve service delivery problems before they happen.
  • 8. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 6McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Stage 5: Engage Once your customer has acclimated to the product or service, a new lifecycle stage begins, where the focus is on getting and keeping the customer engaged. Your customers are constantly validating their decision against ongoing and even new needs. Feelings of dissatisfaction, satisfaction, and loyalty are fluid— especially in the early parts of the post- purchase relationship. Not only do you need to continue to reinforce your value and brand promise, but if you want to enjoy a long, stable relationship, you need to foster loyalty. Barriers to Engagement ƒƒ Customer experience is inconsistent, flawed, or unpleasant; ƒƒ Your brand doesn’t align with perceived or expected attributes and values; ƒƒ Product or service performance either declines or is perceived to decline; and ƒƒ Changes to your product or company processes adversely affect the customer’s needs. Strategic Considerations ƒƒ Recognize that good customer service is expected as a matter of course; ƒƒ Realize that satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers; ƒƒ Always be improving your product and services based on customer feedback; ƒƒ Understand your unique loyalty drivers and consistently deliver on them; and ƒƒ Continually measure and improve performance against key loyalty metrics. Touchpoint Insight: Use Identify dissatisfiers Working with a large telecom to understand why customer satisfaction was so low—as measured in the first 60 days of service for small business customers—we discovered a series of interesting facts. Though a total of 47 individual touchpoints were deployed at this stage, the average number encountered by customers was between 5 and 18, with an average of 6 encountered in the first 60 days of service. Of these touchpoints, three were redundant communications that annoyed their customers and cost significant sums of money. As a result of our analysis, the total number of touchpoints was reduced by over a third, and the three communications were combined into one—boosting satisfaction, and reducing costs by over $550,000 in the first year alone. A systematic approach to managing the touchpoints that drive customer experience will increase loyalty. Touchpoint Insight: Engage Beware of satisfaction metrics Across clients and industries, we’ve seen the fallacy of tracking satisfaction over loyalty first hand. Take a typical bank that routinely enjoys satisfaction scores in the high 80% range, and reports this information as a success metric. Yet, research reveals that less than one-third of this bank’s customers would even consider it for their next financial services product purchase. More alarming, of customer defections, over 60% of these customers had surveyed as “very” or “extremely” satisfied in the tracking period prior to defection. What gives? The bottom line is that satisfied customers are not loyal; satisfaction is a middle ground where you are in great danger of losing customers if you don’t actively attempt to move them to loyalty.
  • 9. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 7McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Unlocking Advocacy and Other Economic Benefits Many customers never even reach a state of loyalty, let alone transcend it. However, deeply loyal customers have the ability to become advocates. And advocates provide significant benefit to your business, ranging from price premiums and lower service costs to greater usage. Advocates will actively recommend your product or service to friends and colleagues, moving prospects through early stages of the lifecycle on your behalf (typically understood as word-of-mouth marketing or “WOM”). What influences advocacy ƒƒ Having trust in your brand, company, people, and products; ƒƒ Comfort in recommending the organization, product, or service; ƒƒ Knowledge that the recommendation reflects positively on them; ƒƒ Consistent delivery against emotional (soft) customer experience drivers; and ƒƒ A highly fulfilling relationship between the customer and the organization. How you can encourage advocacy ƒƒ Know which emotional and functional drivers are important to advocates; ƒƒ Implement customer listening tools that help identify, measure, and improve on key attributes, experiences, and metrics; and ƒƒ Understand that loyal customers are not necessarily advocates. How to invest in customer experience more intelligently If you’re reading this whitepaper, there’s a good chance your company already segments customers by value. You know what it costs to acquire different customers, how much you’ll make over the life of each relationship, etc. And it probably helps you make sound budgetary decisions every day. But what if you could do even better? Smart, customer-centric companies segment across two dimensions: value and needs. They use ongoing customer feedback data to identify wants, needs, and expectations. And these insights, in turn, inform strategic and tactical decisions like: ƒƒ How to better structure the company to serve customers; ƒƒ Which customers to serve, through which channels, and in what ways; ƒƒ Where to position, enhance, or even eliminate touchpoints; and ƒƒ What specific experiences to deliver, when, and to whom. Putting it all together Since touchpoints exist at every stage of the lifecycle, needs-based segmentation isn’t limited to just existing customers. Properly sequenced, touchpoints serve as “levers” that actively move customers from one lifecycle stage to the next—before and after purchase. The key is not the number of touchpoints deployed, but their ability to align with customer needs, increase velocity through the lifecycle, and drive customers closer to your company. The Touchpoint MetricsSM that get measured will drive customer experience results. Customer Attitudes and the Relationship Cycle Understanding dissatisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy At every stage of the lifecycle, customers are developing impressions or attitudes about your company. Poor communication, service, and experiences cause dissatisfaction at any stage of the relationship, from Discover to Engage. On the other hand—and this is where many companies miss the mark—customers can display loyalty and advocacy even before they make their first purchase or fully adopt the product. So, try to always remember that every stage of the lifecycle is full of opportunities to bring customers closer (developing loyalty and possibly advocacy) or drive them away (creating dissatisfaction). Once you understand that, it becomes much easier to optimize your touchpoints and forge stronger customer relationships.
  • 10. Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 8McorpCX | www.mcorp.cx Five steps for leveraging touchpoints to build and profit from stronger customer relationships: 1. Understand your customer relationship lifecycle Understand the stages of your customer relationship lifecycle, by researching audience needs, influencers, and barriers to progression at each stage. 2. Improve customer experience Map the touchpoints in each stage to gain an understanding of the experience they deliver from the customer’s perceptive. 3. Optimize your touchpoints Ensure that touchpoints address specifically identified needs, influencers, and barriers. Fix, add, or remove touchpoints as needed to meet your goals. 4. Focus marketing and customer service spend Focus your budget on those customers and touchpoints that are most effective at driving desired results across key brand, marketing, customer experience, and business metrics. 5. Measure and improve Continually measure your success across key metrics, analyzing, monitoring, validating, implementing, and improving the systems that drive success. Touchpoint Mapping® : How to understand your lifecycle and the sequencing and efficacy of the touchpoints in it Few organizations have a thorough understanding of the many ways in which they interact with or “touch” their customers. This lack of understanding often extends to how these touchpoints impact the perceptions and decisions of customers and the quality of resulting relationships. While marketers enjoy myriad strategic and tactical options, one of the greatest challenges they face is the lack of a vantage point from which to view them and analyze their cumulative effect. When these efforts are viewed through the lens of a map—a map that charts all aspects of each touchpoint in relation with a company’s ability to move the prospect or customer closer—then the effects become clear. By mapping touchpoints, you can measure how effectively your investments support overall strategies and objectives, and how well they do—or don’t—meet the needs of your customers. In conclusion Moving customers along the customer relationship lifecycle requires a deep understanding of their specific needs, influencers, and the barriers they may face in each stage. A commitment to understanding these motivators and barriers is where you can begin to identify the touchpoint opportunities within each stage, and actively speed progression through the lifecycle unique to your organization. Through this in-depth understanding, you will have the knowledge to fix or eliminate underperforming touchpoints or develop new ones. You’ll see how your activities can reduce cost, increase revenue, and drive loyalty over time. As a result, you will draw customers closer, improving brand awareness, customer acquisition, and retention, while solidifying your position in a crowded marketplace. © 2002–2015 McorpCX all rights reserved. Touchpoint Mapping ® is a registered trademark of Touchpoint Metrics, Inc. McorpCX is a leading customer experience services company delivering consulting and technology solutions to customer-centric organizations since 2002. Our practical approach has led to measurable growth, deeper engagement, and better business outcomes for fast-growth market leaders and the Fortune 100, including Microsoft, lululemon, T. Rowe Price, and Blue Shield of California. Whether your organization is just beginning its customer experience journey or is well down the experience transformation path, we are experts at driving customer experience transformation in an increasingly connected world. How might McorpCX help you? To learn how we can help you better understand and connect with your customers, visit www.mcorp.cx/contact or call 1-866-526-2655.
  • 11. McorpCX is a leading customer experience services company. For more than a decade, our blend of strategic thinking and design innovation has helped companies—from fast-growth market leaders to the Fortune 100—transform products, services, customer experiences, and internal processes in exciting and profitable ways. McorpCX 1-866-526-2655 www.mcorp.cx