Few marketers would dispute the statement that it is the sum of all customers' interactions with a company, over time, that ultimately creates or destroys that company’s brand value. Yet few companies take the time to look at their own business practices comprehensively through the lens of their customers to understand how they measure up to their customers' needs and expectations.

Does each customer interaction live up to the brand experience that the company is trying to create? Are you providing a more consistent and relevant customer experience than your competitors are? Which interactions are the most powerful for creating customer loyalty?

Fielding customer-satisfaction surveys is not enough. To better serve their customer base and more effectively acquire new customers, organizations need to delve into the details of individual interactions to understand the relationship between each customer touch point and the value it delivers to customers.

After all, value may be built through a series of positive experiences, but it is maintained through consistently meeting the needs and expectations of your customers throughout the customer lifecycle—from pre-purchase consideration to post-purchase evaluation. Companies that have recognized and leveraged this insight have reaped the benefits through improved key performance metrics. (See sidebar.)

So, despite such successes, why do so few companies take a comprehensive look at their customer touch points? And of those companies that have undertaken such initiatives, why have so many faltered?

The challenge lies in the functional silos in which most organizations operate. Customers experience your company horizontally, across organizational boundaries, but most companies approach customer interaction on a functional basis. The typical result? The inability of cross-functional teams to drive holistic change ultimately produces a disjointed experience for your customers.

Touch-point analysis uncovers powerful customer insights as well as opportunities to improve how well you meet customer-segment needs and wants. Systematically evaluating performance across all customer touch points can lead to better organizational alignment; increased brand perception; and concrete improvements in acquisition, retention, and up-sell and cross-sell efforts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Barre Hardy

Barre Hardy is senior director and agile marketing research lead with CMG Partners, a consultancy helping businesses grow through marketing strategy.

LinkedIn: Barre (Blake) Hardy

Twitter: @barreblake