Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
There’s a saying I like – where the rubber meets the road. In a business – whether you sell photography, coffee or professional services – the rubber meets the road whenever and wherever a customer interacts with your product or service. These customer-business interfaces are often called touch-points.
Think of those moments for a second. Customer email. Customer phone. Customer face-to-face. Customer enquiry. Customer complaint. Customer invoicing. Customers on social networks (Facebook, Twitter).
There are a huge number of situations where your business has an opportunity (where the rubber meets the road) to put a comforting hand on the customers’ shoulder for reassurance, support and to remind them that you exist.
So you can look at those points strategically and ask yourself what experience, what impressions, what outcomes arise from each of those touch-points? How can you, the business, create value or maximise the customer’s impression of your business (product / service)?
Was the customer treated with less than optimal respect; or, was the customer happy with their treatment? Did the representative at the counter trash the company brand by being curt or petty? Was there an opportunity to use the touch-point as an up-selling or cross-selling opportunity. Could you develop relationships? Could you put coupons or theatre tickets attached to certain invoices as a reward program for continual prompt payment?
Here’s a classic e-marketing example. Somebody registers on your website (a touch-point) and leaves an empty shopping cart with two books (another touch-point). The following week, if the cart remains idle, you could reach out and remind that registered customer that they haven’t revisited the cart – maybe they’re interested in something related, perhaps they were absent-minded? If the cart remains idle, two weeks later you reach out and touch them again to raise awareness of a special deal. One month later you reach out and simply say we appreciate the opportunity to do business and hope they return for the Summer / Winter / Easter Sale.
It’s certainly a different way to look at your business. Rather than seeing it as a simple transaction in the marketplace you refocus onto all those touch-points and hone them into a great experience for the customer. The email gets answered within hours, not days. The social media comment is responded to intelligently – even when it is critical of your mistakes. You continually try to value-add, enhance and influence the minds of the market.
And you do this strategically. You sit down and codify the lot so that you know the exact response time for each touch-point. If you receive a complaint it ceases to be arbitrary… the response is courteous, appreciative of feedback and, if valid, the customer gets some free service or product or other opportunity that will turn them around.