The Perfect TouchpointApr 2022
There is a scientific principle that revolves around exchange during interactions. Locard's Exchange Principle states that in a meeting of two things, a resulting exchange will take place. This is an admirable start in explaining how the Perfect Touchpoint can be created. In any interaction between two people, there will always be something that each one has left behind. It is up to us to discover and record the salient points.
The goal of understanding your Touchpoints is to strengthen your relationship with your customer, every interaction they have with your team is crucial to building a balanced dynamic, and over time, a trusting and fruitful relationship.
What is a Touchpoint?
A Touchpoint is any interaction with a customer.
Touchpoint types include telephone or video calls, in-person meetings, emails (sent and received), website visits, and visits to your shop or office. A typical relationship is a series of Touchpoints across these various types. The customer is far more likely to remember each Touchpoint than any of your team. A single bad Touchpoint can ruin an otherwise great relationship.
Every Touchpoint is critical.
Making Every Touchpoint Good
A good Touchpoint is anything that doesn't leave the customer feeling unhappy. These are your basic customer service level Touchpoints, necessary as the bare minimum but, nothing special.
In this case, a series of just good Touchpoints will not leave the customer feeling especially happy or "wowed" by your company.
For the "wow" factor, you need some Great Touchpoints.
A Great Touchpoint
A Great Touchpoint involves two things:
1. Make sure you resolve the challenges you were told
Customers will happily tell you more than you need, amongst this information will be the relevant facts to the topic at hand, but they'll also tell you other things.
They may mention challenges that they're experiencing, and whilst not relevant to the topic, they will be the most prominent thing on their plate. If the source of these issues is from your company, then you had better acknowledge them. The customer will remember these challenges, they'll be negative, and they will hinder the relationship until they're resolved.
A great Touchpoint involves solving all of the challenges, not just the matter at hand. If no immediate solution is available, at the very least, record the other challenges and pass them to an account manager or technical team to resolve, never let them go forgotten because the customer won't!
2. Making sure you keep your promises
Whilst your internal involvement in the Touchpoint may end when the phone call ends, the relationship continues with the customer. they are now expecting the discussed actions to happen. If you have promised to do something, you must complete it, however small or big the task. If your team has forgotten that promise and the customer is still expecting it, you only have yourself to blame. The customer will have lost faith in your ability, given up waiting and chasing it, or worse, decides to go to a competitor.
Record every promise, schedule it so it happens, and do it.
If you called a customer service number, and the next day you were called back to say the issue you had was resolved, but also another couple of challenges you raised were being looked into (or were also fixed), and both of the promises had been achieved ... that would be a great call, right?
There is a fine line between trying too hard and delivering what the customer expects. Not every Touchpoint can be great. Sometimes there is neither an opportunity nor the time to go above and beyond. Also, sometimes a customer just wants what they've asked for without any "faff", for them, that is the Touchpoint they want.
Where Touchpoints Go Wrong
Acceptable standard too low or not enforced - the standard the staff are working to is either not high enough or it is high enough but not enforced.
This is more common in really large companies where enforcement is difficult but is usually identified and resolved very quickly in smaller businesses. A requested customer service score can identify this, and management and training can resolve this quite quickly.
Lack of Qualification - the staff aren't qualified to do the job, and it's obvious.
This is common during peak trading seasons in shops, particularly consumer electronics around Christmas where staff are hired quickly with minimal training for a short period. Training can help; however, it is very difficult to train someone who isn't genuinely interested. So, hiring staff with a genuine interest is the optimal goal, staff that are experienced in the desired field, are keen to learn, and will act with genuine enthusiasm when speaking to a customer.
Dishonesty - your staff are lying to your customers because it's easier than telling the truth.
This is seen in various industries where the customer is told what they want to hear to get a sale. Or where the cause of the problem points blame at the business so the blame is pointed at a fictitious supplier fault or even a fictitious customer fault. A script for covering common challenges can help (but a script has challenges of its own), if the staff are not able to handle complaints and challenges without lying, they shouldn't be in the service team. Escalation to senior staff is often the outcome, and if the management are the ones lying, they need training on how to deliver a difficult message positively.
You will be respected more for being honest about a mistake than you will ever be when the lie is discovered.
Lack of Enthusiasm - the majority of the staff don't care about the customers, and any new staff (even those with the best of intentions) quickly realise they don't need to care.
Two branches of the same company within a few miles of each other can be polar opposites on the enthusiasm given. Partially driven by management, but also the general feeling of the staff, the entire branch either cares or it doesn't. Customers who visit each branch get a really strong feeling about which one cares, and which one doesn't.
This cannot be fixed with training, and probably not management either. Often the only solution is to replace a substantial part of the negative team. This takes time but needs to be addressed swiftly. There is not a more damaging aspect to a struggling business than a negative review received from an unhappy customer.
Unreasonable or Unfair - At some point, we've all called a customer services number and ended the call feeling worst off than when we started. Typically, this was because the issue wasn't resolved, and you felt it should have been.
Unqualified - You have spoken to the junior in a shop and been left feeling you knew more than they did.
Dishonest - You made a complaint and the excuse you were given sounded like they either made it up on the spot or say the same to every customer.
Uncaring - You were left feeling that the person couldn't care less. This usually comes from a reiteration of the 'company line' or a recitation of the policy which holds no resolution.
The Perfect Touchpoint
Like a Great Touchpoint, these are not always possible. Perfect Touchpoints build upon Great Touchpoints. Up until now, we've been focusing on the experience a customer has, and also assuming they're perfect. Unfortunately, and as you will already know, not all of them are perfect.
As much as a Touchpoint is about giving your customers the best possible experience, there are also times when your business needs to protect its interests. Much of this protection will be covered by corporate policy, training, or common sense of staff.
There is however one area of protection that is often overlooked. Recording promises a customer has made.
We're not talking about contractual promises (such as placing an order) we're talking about the minor little promises people make, such as "if you send that over, I'll look at that", "I'll ask a friend, and get back to you", or "I'll give that some thought". You're not going to ask a customer to sign and confirm they'll do those things.
As much as we must fulfil the promises we make, it is just as important to record the promises our customers make. Regardless of whether the customer lets you down, you have recorded what they have promised so you know what you should expect from them, and what is reasonable to ask for.
When a customer tells you they'll read the brochure when you meet next time, it is completely acceptable to ask them if they read it and to expect them to know what it contains.
The single thing to make a difference
At the end of a perfect Touchpoint, there should be no doubt in the staff members' minds that would (in a perfect world) be the single thing that would make the biggest difference. In some cases, this may not be relevant to the topic of the call.
When a customer calls their ISP because their internet keeps disconnecting, they may mention a challenge that their internet is slow. The speed of the internet is a challenge but it is not the cause of the current issue. However, the client is frustrated, and the single thing that would make the biggest difference would be getting them on a faster fibre connection. This might not be possible as it may cost more money, or not be available to them. Regardless of how attainable it is, it would make the biggest difference, therefore, if the circumstances change this is something that should be revisited.
A single thing is unlikely to need a description longer than 12 words, and can often be summarised in 2 or 3 words, such as "Need's Fibre"
To Achieve Perfection
With a Perfect Touchpoint you will have recorded:
- Any challenges - so the company can resolve them
- Any promises you've made - so you make good on them
- Any promises the customer has made - so you know what to expect of them
- The single thing that will make the biggest difference
Recording a Touchpoint
There are some rare exceptions, but the reality is that not every Touchpoint is being recorded.
When Touchpoints are recorded it's often down to a policy and is unlikely to be because the staff member genuinely feels it will be of any benefit to them.
Logging a Touchpoint is about:
- demonstrating to each staff member the value of doing so
- communicating to other staff accurately
- giving structure and consistency
The most common way to record a Touchpoint is with some form of Completion Notes. This is a text area, used to record the outcome of a call or meeting, etc. The Completion Notes attract anything from a couple of words to full transcripts. These notes can and should be accessed by other staff that requires updated information on the customer and their current journey.
To make the recording of a Touchpoint quicker and simpler, the use of Completion Codes can be implemented. I.e. to quickly mark the Touchpoint as "No answer", "Left Message" or "Meeting Booked".
Recording a Perfect Touchpoint
Forget the Completion Notes, just record four things:
- The challenges
- Your promises to them
- Their promises to you
- The single thing that will make the biggest difference
The first three are just lists, each one probably 3 - 5 words long. The last one is unlikely to be more than 12 words, and often 2 or 3 words.
This process only takes 1 minute.
Starting each Touchpoint
At the start of each call or meeting, your staff member has a notebook.
At the top, they write; Challenges, To-dos, Promises, and Differences.
They may make their usual notes, but each time a challenge, to do, promise, or something that would make a difference comes up, they get written down in the appropriate column.
At the end of the call, the only part that is recorded is those four things. (You can record the transcripts and other notes too, but it is these four things that will be the most useful).
Where does this information go?
At any point, you can look at a Customer record, and in one place see:
- a list of the Challenges they've ever raised. You can tick off each one as it's addressed
- the to-dos are scheduled for you as actionable tasks in your calendar to ensure they happen
- their promises are recorded in one place so that you can refer to them at any time
- the single thing that makes the biggest difference is recorded against each Touchpoint
These Touchpoints need to be stored somewhere, your customer contact records are just data if not accompanied by relevant Touchpoints.
A CRM that also holds a complete 360' overview of all other aspects of that customer. A CRM that can record every Touchpoint. A CRM that allows a Perfect Touchpoint to be recorded, and the information to be presented in an accessible and clear manner, giving the customer a much better experience when dealing with your team. Motivating all staff to record, see and benefit from logging The Perfect Touchpoint.
If you're considering the implementation of a CRM or a change to your current provider and would like to discuss this or pick our brains, the team would be more than happy to help. You can get in touch via the Contact form or call us.