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The Customer Lens: An Approach to Customer Touch-Point Analysis

by Barre Hardy  |  
July 7, 2009

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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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

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  • by ClickFox Tue Jul 7, 2009 via web

    Terrific article! I could not agree more with the approach that you outlined above. It is so important to do a baseline assessment before trying to make any changes.

    Customer touch-point analysis is a must for any organization that wants to understand customer behavior and patterns. We call it Customer Experience Analytics (CEA) at ClickFox.

  • by Scott Tue Jul 7, 2009 via web

    Nice article...and timely becasue lately I feel there has been too much attention on the use of Twitter and other social media vehicles to improve the customer experience (i.e. deliver great service) when in fact, for most companies these touchpoints only represent a fraction of their customer interactions. I would add that having the right echnology is critical. Technology that enables organizations to continuously capture the voice of the customer across all touchpoints, analyze it , and distribute it across the ogranization in a role-based manner for immediate action.

  • by Barbara Phillips Long Thu Jul 9, 2009 via web

    A touch-point example for you from today:

    My e-mail address is changing. I receive regular marketing e-mails from a number of businesses, so I've been changing my e-mail address with those companies that allow me to do so with just one or two clicks.

    The places that only offer the "unsubscribe" option only (without a chance to change the address) are being dumped, even if I do business with them.

    Some businesses that also offered an opportunity to reduce the frequency of the e-mails received a second chance as long as it wasn't too complicated to resubscribe, since they were trying to anticipate what the customer would want.

    Touch-point lesson No. 1: Keep it simple and anticipate routine customer needs.

  • by RemoteRep Fri Jul 17, 2009 via web

    I would be very interested in what key opinion leaders in marketing would have to say about the potential business value of knowing how corporate sales presentation messages (a very strategic customer touch point) are actually performing in the field, at the point of sale. In other words, if sales reps were to, first of all, deliver consistent messages and if it were possible to track prospects' interactions with the distinct messages comprising the presentation, how valuable would such a tool and such information be to sales and marketing leaders insofar as a message and sales process improvement tool is concerned. Any comments? There's a lot more I could say, but this is a good starting point.

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