So what is a touch point? And what isn’t it?
A touch point is the interaction that takes place between the person and the company at a certain time and venue and that meets the human need specific to that person with the value offer of the company. In other words, the touch point is a “moment” in time. The word “touch/contact” within touch point clearly reveals the human aspect of this term.
The touch point is not a tool. Consumer behavior is the tool. The touch point is the moment of interaction.
The touch point is not the channel. The channel is a tool which enables interaction with the consumer or the user. For example, the online supermarket shopping set up by Tesco at a subway, is a new example of a physical channel. However, the fact that shopping can be done while waiting at the subway, is a touch point example.
Having said that, the dynamics of the channel impact influence touch point strategies. For example, let’s say the average age of a newspaper’s target audience is 25 for Facebook, 36 for the web site, and 45 for the printed newspaper. The newspaper is the same. However, the touch point strategy applied for each one of the segments, must be different. Even though Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are the most popular social media, sometimes it is required to pursue completely different types of interaction.
The touch point is not a platform. The touch point provides emotional benefit support for the platform.
The touch point is an EXPERIENCE.
However abstract this experience may be, it is possible to concretize it through research and with the right strategy.
This concretization is realized with the touch point mapping that comes into play. By mapping separately for each of the segments, touch point maps make predictions on what time of the day and where the interaction will be more intense. These predictions have a direct impact on the content, communication, and media strategies. The path from the campaign to community creation goes through dividing touch points into four major categories:
• Touch points where interaction can be fast,
• Multiple touch points where interaction can be achieved in the long term,
• Touch points where individual interaction is high and where the consumers can have their hands on the brand platform at any time,
• Touch points where mass interaction takes place.
Of course the mass/individual or fast/long-term touch point specific to the segment each brand would like to address, will be different from one another. Research, which will be conducted with the consideration of these four categories, must focus on the point where value is created for the consumer and not on the point where the consumer is convinced. The point that convinces is transient whereas that which creates value reinforces loyalty. In the mean time, communication must be continuous to convince. This means constantly shining more and being more audience-focused in order to attract.
The consumer generally proceeds in the following order in the process of decision making: Analysis, evaluation, purchase, re-evaluation, enjoyment, advocacy, and bonding. The touch point at which the consumer steps into the next phase, must be discovered via this mapping system. However, while doing this, one must not forget that the same marketing logic cannot be applied in the same manner for every touch point. The interaction idea must be tackled in terms of creative, digital, and social design as well as business and service design and a holistic customer journey must be the goal. Because ultimately, the consumer is left with whether the lived experience was a flawed or flawless one and not with the nuance between the digital and the conventional.
So which touch point is relevant to the brand’s success? This is where the 360°touch point strategy comes into play. Offline-online (e.g. the web site address printed on shopping vouchers), Online-online (e.g. social network posts), Online-offline (e.g. location-based services), Offline-offline (e.g. WOM), Push and pull (touch point solutions which will activate the consumer or impose the brand on the consumer), Owned touch points (e.g. loyalty programs, packaging, mail signature), Purchased touch points (e.g. Search Engine Marketing), Earned touch points (e.g. viral campaigns, blog) strategies are only a few of these.
Touch point planning is as crucial as designing the campaign itself rather than being its subset and it is a process that must tackled all by itself.
THE MUST-HAVES OF TOUCH POINTS:
1. Placebo Effect: Experience is shaped by previous experience. As the Behavioral Scientist Dan Ariely has mentioned, if we believe we are having an expensive meal, our experience is more positive. Blind tasting tests support this fact. A touch point is about how you frame it. Let’s say a research plot or communication strategy designed according to the touch point map recommends an entertaining experience for “X beauty shop”. In this case, tired and weary sales representatives would disrupt the persuasion process. This is not the failure of the advertisement or the campaign but that of the touch point interaction management.
2. Service Design: Now there are experience design agencies. One must follow creative solutions that will create a consistent touch point experience for different segments.
3. Building Dialogue: Building dialogue must be the indispensable goal. An interaction where there is no dialogue, takes the brand back to customer interaction 1.0. Zappos, one of the leaders in online retail, has a touch point strategy that particularly directs customers to call by phone when they encounter a problem and uses this as a tool to bond emotionally.
4. Value Offer: Every touch point must have a value offer. Expectations may be heightened emotionally with a TV spot. If the service or the store does not support this emotionality in the field, the brand perception is damaged.
5. Identifying the Sentiment of the Experience: Different customer sentiments must be discovered in each step of the customer experience journey: Awareness, influence, compatibility, purchase, post-purchase experience, service, interaction and becoming a love brand. For example, for someone who expects surprises and has sentiments of voracity at the awareness step and who is optimistic but feels insecure at the influence step towards a textile retailer, one must create a sensible and simple experience with surprises at the awareness phase and offer an entertaining and realistic interaction that provides plenty of options for the influence process.