Channel and touchpoints: how do they relate to each other?

To create the perfect customer journey, you need to define, identify and structure all necessary elements. Especially touchpoints and channels are crucial but tend to get mixed up when it comes to customer journey mapping.

Customer journey: touchpoint meets channel

A channel is the communication channel that a company offers its customers. Not every channel supports a two-sided communication (for example, billboard or print ads). A channel can be analog (the local shop) or digital (the homepage).

Touchpoints, on the other hand, are clearly defined customer interactions throughout the customer lifecycle. A touchpoint follows a clear goal that is set by the customer. If a customer wants to know something about a product, signs up for a newsletter, buys something or gives negative feedback he does so by interacting with the company and thereby defining the touchpoint.

The same touchpoint (for example a complaint) can happen on different channels. But not every channel is the right one for every touchpoint.

We can differentiate touchpoints and channels by two distinct characteristics:

  1. Touchpoints are customer interactions with a goal that is defined by the customer.
  2. The same touchpoint can be found on different channels but not every channel is reduced to one touchpoint, and not every channel is adequate for the touchpoint. (Usually, customers can not make a purchase on Twitter, for example).

A touchpoint therefore is defined by:

  • a customer need (what does the customer want?)
  • a channel (how and where does the customer communicate with the company?)
  • a buying phase (at which stage on their customer journey is the customer currently?)

Customer journey mapping: the big picture

Touchpoints are a combination of the customer’s need and the use of a communication channel that is being offered. Customer journey mapping – the mapping of all channels, touchpoints, assets and personas – helps identify not only the channels and touchpoints. It also helps identify gaps in the customer experience.

Are there enough channels to contact the company? Can customers easily give feedback, cancel orders or even reclaim? Is the experience the same, whether the customer uses analog or digital channels? Are there any customer needs that are not included in the customer journey? Can a customer switch channels without loss of information or change of service quality?

One of the biggest challenges that companies face today is the rising number of communication channels in the age of digital transformation.

Companies not only have to offer those channels but also maintain them professionally so the customers can use them whether they need information, service or entertainment. Additionally, these new channels need to be integrated seamlessly into the journey and with the connected database and software used by sales and marketing.

Find out how you can implement and use Customer Journey Management in your company.

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