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“A deep understanding

of touchpoints can
improve customer
experiences, strengthen
relationships and boost
your bottom line.”

MCorp Consulting White Paper

Understanding Touchpoints and your

Customer Relationship Lifecycle
How Touchpoint Mapping can help you increase

acquisition, boost retention and drive brand loyalty

by moving more of the right prospects and customers
closer to your organization.
Overview: Improving the quality
of customer relationships
What marketers can learn through a deep
understanding of touchpoints, and their
relationship to the Customer Relationship
Lifecycle unique to their organization.

Key Issues: Every organization has relationships with

audience segments that impact perfor-
How do they do it? In this white paper,
we’ll show you how.
1. What are the most effective mance and are key to achieving goals.
First published by MCorp Consulting in
ways for organizations to drive key These audiences can include customers
2004, this is one of our most popular
audiences closer to their sphere of (both current and prospective), employ-
publications, now updated with more
influence? ees, suppliers, partners, media, investors
recent references and case examples
and government.
2. How do organizations focus and for 2009.
sequence key touchpoints to increase While some organizations struggle with
customer acquisition and retention? customer churn and low growth, others
seem to naturally draw their key audience
3. How can a better understanding of groups closer, cementing loyalty, driving
the Customer Relationship Lifecycle retention and word-of-mouth referrals, and
increase the efficacy and ROI of enjoying consistent growth year after year.
marketing sales and customer
experience initiatives? They have a steady supply of new cus-
tomers, attract and retain the best
employees, develop beneficial, long-term
partnerships with suppliers, are media
darlings, have positive and constructive
relationships with their investors, and
have a productive relationship with
governmental agencies and officials.
Understanding the relationship
between touchpoints and your
Customer Relationship Lifecycle.

An explosion in touchpoints At the same time, the customer experi- They have another secret—they monitor
is increasing the complexity ence is more involved and important than and improve the touchpoints that these
of marketing and customer ever, in fueling acquisition, driving word-of- groups encounter as they interact with
relationships. mouth referrals, and ensuring retention of their company.
the right customers.
The constantly changing space between
you and your customers is comprised of In response to this evolving landscape,
those places where you “touch” or come marketing is being redefining as “the All physical and communication
into contact with your customers. They science and art of finding, retaining, and interactions your audiences
are the foundation of customer experi- growing profitable customers.” experience during their relationship
ences and relationships. In terms of with your company.
The first step towards moving audiences
perception, your organization is the sum
closer to your organization is to under-
of your touchpoints.
stand where and how each one influences
Touchpoints are all the interactions that your success. Those companies that
your company’s audiences experience understand and systematically review the
over their relationship lifecycle with your unique relationship lifecycles of their audi-
company. Interactive, human or static, ences experience higher loyalty, stronger
the number of these touchpoints is in- brands, and more profitable relationships.
creasing exponentially.
Fueled by the internet, customer choice, Static Analog
and ever-more-finite segmentation, the Promotion Touchpoints
fragmentation of traditional and new Direct Mail (One Way)
channels—such as mobile and social Communications Human
media —makes it even more difficult for Products Touchpoints
marketers to effectively track their organi- Advertising (Bi-Directional)
zation’s interactions with key audiences.
Call Center
Focusing on the “right” customers.
This increase in touchpoints makes Management
acquiring and retaining customers more Brand Support
complex, and more important than ever.
And as this complexity increases, the
time, expense and skill required of Experience
companies selling to these customers
increases as well.

Static, human and interactive touchpoints define

your brand, and drive your customer experience.
Touchpoints occur every time customers come into contact
with, or ‘touch’ your brand, and anything associated with it.
Email Interactive Digital
Individually and in groups, these touchpoints define the Social Media Touchpoints
landscape between the customer’s world and yours. Web (Multi-Directional)

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

Touchpoints encountered through your
lifecycle define the territory where your
customers and organization interact.

Leverage touchpoints as marketing Understand and capitalize on your An understanding of your lifecycle,
and customer relationship levers. Customer Relationship Lifecycle. and the sequence of touchpoints
encountered in it, will drive customers
Touchpoints are the key for driving audi- With revenue as a driver, most companies
closer to your company.
ences through this progression, from focus primarily on their customers. Those
awareness to usage, usage to satisfaction, they have, those they want and those they Simply put, customer needs and wants
and satisfaction to loyalty and advocacy. don’t want. The better they understand drive their actions throughout the life-
Every point of contact or communication— the importance and characteristics of cycle. At the same time, barriers to this
online and off, in-person or not—between their unique customer lifecycle, the easier progression exist that affect these needs,
your organization and any member of your it is for them to increase the effectiveness wants and perceptions. Properly planned,
audience universe is a touchpoint. of branding, marketing and customer implemented and sequenced, touch-
experience investments while driving the points have the power to remove these
Ranging from brand, marketing, and call
right customers closer. barriers and effectively address needs
centers, to web sites, point-of-purchase,
and wants.
sales tools and more, each and every Every customer relationship begins with
touchpoint drives audience perceptions, awareness, the first of the seven stages In each stage of the lifecycle, you have
actions and relationships—both positive that make up the lifecycle. Progress the opportunity to meet their needs. Or
and negative. Simply put, effective touch- through these stages can occur sequen- you can leave these needs unfulfilled,
points move customers closer to your tially, or an individual may skip stages unwittingly erecting barriers to loyalty.
organization. Ineffective touchpoints push or even reverse to prior stages. But the
Through a deep understanding of the
customers away. stages themselves seldom vary.
lifecycle unique to your organization, as
Consciously guiding customers through well as the touchpoints encountered as
your touchpoints while using them as your customers move through it, you will
levers to influence perception and action have the framework for moving customers
results in a “magnetic attraction” as closer, increasing awareness, retention
customers are drawn through the life- and profitability as a result.
cycle, ever closer to your company.

1. Awareness 2. Knowledge 3. Consideration 4. Selection 5. Satisfaction 6. Loyalty 7. Advocacy

Pre-Purchase Purchase Post-Purchase

The Customer Relationship Lifecycle (CRL)

Companies that understand their Customer Relationship Lifecycle constantly work to identify and
improve the multiple touchpoints encountered in each lifecycle stage. Looked at both individually and
in groups from the perspectives of value, efficacy, function, sequence and more, touchpoints are the
key to driving more of the right customers through your lifecycle, and closer to your organization.

By knowing precisely how to successfully move prospects and customers closer, the number, quality
and retention of customers increases dramatically.
MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 
On the following pages, we address
each stage of the Customer Relationship
Stage 1: Awareness
Touchpoint Insight:
Lifecycle and some of the myriad poten- 1. A prospect realizes a need or want. Awareness
tial needs, barriers and outcomes possi-
ble as a result of a prospect or customer 2. Companies who communicate the Know where your audience
moving through these stages. ability to potentially address these is looking
needs create awareness.
While we recognize that the subject We’ve seen companies boost
can be both a prospect and an existing awareness through an under-
Barriers to Awareness
customer at pre-purchase stages, we use standing of touchpoints that may
the phrase Prospect in the pre-purchase n Your organization is not positioned to be outside their direct control,
and customer in post-purchase phases register on the customer’s radar; but which they may be able to
for simplicity. n Prospects aren’t aware your company influence. The resulting interac-
can address their need (poor brand tive strategies leverage the broad
awareness); scope of social media, from Twitter
n Customers don’t feel they know you as and Digg to third-party blogs and
well as they know your competition (low consumer-driven buying sites.
brand recognition); Customers, including “C” level
executives, use the Internet as
n Inability to stand out among the media
and communications clutter. a primary awareness-generating
tool, with every $1 spent online
Strategic Considerations now influencing $3.45 in offline
n Understand where your audience is
looking for information, and how;
n Understand the perceptions of your
brand within your audience. Does it
match your vision?
n Know your competitors and their market
position in relation to yours;
n Determine appropriate touchpoints and
marketing levers to drive awareness.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

“Touchpoints encompass much
more than traditional marketing

Stage 2: Knowledge Stage 3: Consideration

Touchpoint Insight:
1. A prospect obtains knowledge about Awareness 1. Prospects weigh their knowledge
a company, product or service. of available solutions against their
Know what your target needs hierarchy of needs. These needs can
2. If passive, the customer will absorb
A non-profit needed to stand out be broad, such as practical needs of
information pushed through various
from a sea of competitive giving cost/value, timing, specific expertise;
media, or obtained through unstruc-
opportunities, with research personal, such as status or relationship;
tured communication.
revealing that knowledge of the and emotional, such as overcoming fear
3. If active, they seek knowledge that non-profit itself was very high, but of failure.
addresses their need, using key criteria that specific benefits (that is, what 2. The prospect will examine criteria
and ideal attributes which they have
the non-profit accomplished with and attributes against their hierarchy
the donations) were unknown. As of needs to develop a profile of the
a result, brand spend was shifted ideal solution.
Barriers to Knowledge
from a priority goal of creating
n Insufficient information exists to assure brand awareness to delivering Barriers to Consideration
a customer that a given solution will ad- messaging that communicated n Can’t easily access information;
dress their wants or needs; relevant results of donor contribu-
n Difficult to determine the relevance of
n Available data does not address the tions to key audiences.
given solution to their problem;
customer’s key criteria or required
attributes; n Brand position or values do not “speak”
to prospect needs;
n Too difficult to determine the relevance
of a given solution; n Poor sales process experience.
n Competitive brands may be perceived
Strategic Considerations
as being more effective, or as having a
greater value. n Ensure your brand’s relevance in the
Strategic Considerations n Grant access to information;
n Know what your prospects want and n Know your prospects’ key criteria and
need in this stage, and provide perti- hierarchy of needs;
nent information in a way that answers
n Sequence of marketing communica-
questions quickly and easily;
tions and sales materials should
n Ensure that your message, benefits and support the brand, while addressing
processes are clear, relevant and believ- identified needs;
able to your audience;
n Provide a consistent brand experience
n Position branding, messaging, pricing, across all touchpoints, including the
and products to effectively address (or sales process and related interactions.
dismiss) your competition;
n Clarity trumps persuasion at this stage.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

Stage 4: Selection/Trial
Touchpoint Insight:
1. The prospect makes a selection Selection
based on how well an organization
meets their hierarchy of needs, and Understand barriers to purchase
matches their “ideal” profile, as well For a commercial lender it was
as the process and quality of interac- discovered that a key touchpoint
tion during the information-gathering in the selection process was the
stages. application. Yet the gap in perfor-
2. The prospect becomes a customer; if mance between the highest-value
expectations are met and/or exceeded customers and the next tiers was
during this stage, the customer may be significant. Analysis showed that
ready to move to Stage 5, Satisfaction. loan officers filled applications
out for their best customers, while
Barriers to Selection lower value customers where left
n Indecisiveness or “no decision”; to their own devices. Through
simplification of the application
n Conflicting opinions from other spheres
process, the number of total
of influence;
applications submitted increased
n Pricing structure does not incent trial; by over 30%.
n Objections exist that have not been
uncovered or overcome;
n External factors—e.g. economy,
n Internal factors—e.g. competitive
“champions,” budgets, shifting

Strategic Considerations
n Provide communications that confirm
your company’s ability to address the
prospect’s hierarchy of needs;
n Understand real objections;
n Understand the prospect’s evaluation
n Marry brand value and messaging with
personal interaction experience.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

“A systematic approach to
managing the touchpoints that
drive customer experience will
increase loyalty.”

Stage 5: Satisfaction Stage 6: Loyalty

Touchpoint Insight:
1. The relationship intensifies as the Satisfaction 1. A consistently delivered, relevantly
customer discovers whether perfor- branded customer experience can ac-
mance meets expectations. Focus your spending to drive ROI count for up to one-third of your organi-
Working with a large telecom to zation’s ability to drive loyalty.
2. Performance itself does not dictate
satisfaction; rather, it is performance understand why satisfaction—as 2. Product and service quality is also
against expectations that determines measured in the first 60 days of a significant driver of Loyalty, also
satisfaction. service for small-business cus- accounting for up to one-third of the
tomers—was so low, we discov- overall “loyalty equation.”
3. Many companies lose focus and com-
ered a series of interesting facts.
mitment to their new customers at this 3. Price, trust and performance on
Though a total of 47 individual
critical point. relevant brand values are also key
touchpoints were deployed at
this stage, the average number
Barriers to Satisfaction
encountered by customers was
Barriers to Loyalty
n Unrealistic expectations (performance, between 5 and 18, with an aver-
service, etc.); age of six encountered in the first n Customer experience is inconsis-
n The company represented a brand or 60 days of service. And of these, tent, flawed, or results in unpleasant
service in the sales process that didn’t interactions;
three were redundant communi-
accurately reflect reality; cations, annoying their customers n The relationship with your brand does
n Poor product or service performance; and costing a significant amount not map to perceived/expected attri-
of money to deliver. As a result butes and values;
n Poor customer service;
of this analysis, the total number n Product or service performance de-
n Inconsistent customer experience; clines, or is perceived to decline;
of touchpoints was reduced by
n Price/value ratio changes. over a third, and the three pieces n Company processes or product chang-
were combined into one—boosting es, adversely affecting the customer.
Strategic Considerations satisfaction, and reducing costs
n Clearly understand customer expecta- by over $550,000 in the first Strategic Considerations
tions; don’t make promises you can’t year alone. n Understand brand and customer experi-
keep; ence drivers to loyalty, and deliver con-
n Personalize or customize service or sistently against these;
offerings; n Understand the true value of each cus-
n Implement customer listening tools, tomer segment to your business; invest
and provide forum for two-way appropriately in the right customers;
communication; n Satisfied customers are not loyal
n Identify and solve service delivery customers;
problems before they happen. n Recognize that good customer service
is expected as a matter of course;
n Continually improve product and service
offerings based on customer feedback;
n Identify, measure and improve perfor-
mance against key loyalty metrics.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

Stage 7: Advocacy
Touchpoint Insight: Touchpoint Insight:
Loyalty 1. Many customers will never move Advocacy
beyond loyalty. However, those who do
Beware of satisfaction measures become advocates will provide signifi- Control your touchpoints
Across clients and industries, cant benefit to your business, ranging A retail bank manager noted
we’ve seen the fallacy of tracking from price premiums and lower service with pride that their branch had
satisfaction over loyalty first hand. costs to greater usage. consistently higher Net Promoter®
Take a typical bank that routinely 2. Advocates will actively recommend scores than others. Yet a sharp
enjoys satisfaction scores in the your product or service to friends and col- drop in performance scores was
80% range, and reports this leagues, moving prospects through early of concern to this manager as well
information routinely as a success stages of the lifecycle on your behalf as bank management. A survey
metric. Yet, research reveals that (Word of Mouth Marketing or “WOM”). of bank customer experiences
less than one-third of this bank’s 3. Trust (in your brand, company, people quickly revealed the source of the
customers would even consider and products) is a significant factor in problem. In this branch, one teller
it for their next financial services gaining and retaining advocacy. was in the habit of providing dog
product purchase. More alarming, biscuits to drive-through custom-
of customer defections, over 60% Influencers ers with dogs. Customers would
of these customers had surveyed pass two or three other branches
n Customers are comfortable recommend-
as “very” or “extremely” satisfied of this same institution to drive-
ing the organization, product or service;
in the tracking period prior to through with Fido. Yet when she
defection. What gives? The bot-
n The recommendation reflects positively left, this teller took her biscuits
on them;
tom line is that satisfied custom- with her. The conclusion is that
ers are not loyal; satisfaction is a n Delivering consistently against emotional touchpoints can be powerful tools
middle ground where you are in (soft) drivers is of increased importance; for relationship building. Now, all
great danger of losing customers n A highly fulfilling relationship exists branches hand out biscuits at the
if you don’t actively attempt to between the customer and the drive through—and an initiative to
move them to loyalty. organization. identify both known and unknown
touchpoints, and their impact, is
Strategic Considerations well under way.
n Understand what emotional and func-
tional drivers are important to your
n Develop and implement customer listening
tools that allow you to identify, measure
and improve your performance on key at-
tributes, experiences and loyalty metrics;
n Track and understand your Net
Promoter® scores, and benchmark
against your competition;
n Understand that loyal customers are
not necessarily advocates.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

“The Touchpoint Metrics SM

that get measured

will drive customer
experience results.”

A note on dissolution Putting it all together: Touchpoints Touchpoint Mapping®: How to

are the basis for every interaction your understand your lifecycle, and the
The price of failure at any stage of the life-
customers experience during their sequencing and efficacy of the
cycle is dissolution. For instance, if an orga-
relationship with your company touchpoints in it
nization does not effectively communicate
differentiation in the pre-purchase stage, Through an integral understanding of Few organizations have a thorough under-
or fails to move a customer to satisfaction, prospect and customer needs, influencers, standing of the many ways in which they
the relationship will eventually be ended and barriers to progress at each stage of interact with or “touch” their customers.
by the customer, often quickly and without the lifecycle, you can identify opportunities This lack of understanding often extends
warning. for touchpoints to more effectively influence to how these touchpoints impact the per-
and “move” them from one stage to the ceptions and decisions of customers, and
Magnet companies recognize the high
other. the quality of resulting relationships.
cost of acquiring new customers and los-
ing existing ones, and strive to measure Properly sequenced, touchpoints serve While marketers enjoy myriad strategic and
and reduce turnover at every stage. as “levers”, actively moving customers tactical options, one of the greatest chal-
from one stage of the lifecycle to the next. lenges they face is the lack of a vantage
Investing the right amount in the right Depending on the complexity of your brand point from which to view them, and analyze
customers and product or service delivery, there can their cumulative effect. When these efforts
be from dozens to hundreds of relevant are viewed through the lens of a map—a
Those organizations that are most suc- touchpoints. The key to success is not map that charts all aspects of each touch-
cessful at driving prospects and customers the number of touchpoints deployed, but point in relation with a company’s ability to
through their lifecycle also have a deep un- the efficacy of each at moving customers move the prospect or customer closer—then
derstanding of the value of their customers. through your lifecycle, and closer to your the effects become clear.
These organizations consciously decide to organization.
invest more heavily in higher-value custom- By mapping touchpoints, you can mea-
ers at each stage. For example, a customer sure how effectively your investments
with a potential lifetime of (X) will receive a support overall strategies and objectives,
certain amount of recognition and invest- and how well they do—or don’t—meet the
ment throughout the CRL. However, the in- needs of your customers.
vestment in customers with a lifetime value
of (X – 2) may be purposefully capitated to
ensure greater profits. At the same time, a
segment with a value of (X + 2) may receive
a much greater share of the marketing and
relationship investment.

MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 

Five steps for leveraging
touchpoints to build
and profit from stronger
customer relationships:

In Conclusion 1. Understand your relationship

Moving prospects and customers along
the Customer Relationship Lifecycle Understand the stages of your
requires a deep understanding of their Customer Relationship Lifecycle, by
specific needs and influencers, and the researching audience needs, influenc-
barriers they may face in each stage. ers, and barriers to progression at
each stage.
A commitment to understanding these
motivators and barriers is where you can 2. Improve the customer
begin to identify the touchpoint opportuni- experience
ties within each stage, and actively speed
progression through the lifecycle unique Map the touchpoints in each stage to
to your organization. gain an understanding of the experi-
ence they deliver from the customer’s
Through this in-depth understanding, you perceptive.
will have the knowledge to fix or eliminate
underperforming touchpoints, or develop 3. Optimize your touchpoints
new ones. You’ll see how your activities
Ensure that touchpoints address spe-
can rescue cost, increase revenue, and
cifically identified needs, influencers,
drive loyalty over time. As a result, you
and barriers—fix, add or remove them
will draw customers closer, improving
as needed to meet your goals.
brand awareness, customer acquisition
and retention, and solidifying your posi-
4. Focus marketing and service
tion in a crowded marketplace.
Focus your budget on those custom-
ers and touchpoints that are most
effective at driving desired results
across key brand, marketing, custom-
er experience and business metrics.

About MCorp Consulting and Touchpoint Mapping® 5. Measure and improve

MCorp Consulting is a research, brand and strategy consultancy that maps and improves the Continually measure your success
touchpoints between organizations and their customers, delivering better brand, marketing and across key metrics, analyzing, moni-
customer experiences. toring, validating, implementing and
Touchpoint Mapping is a proprietary research methodology that measures the impact of indi- improving the systems that drive
vidual touchpoints across your customer relationship lifecycle, and shows you where and how to success.
fix them to drive more customers closer to your business, more efficiently and cost effectively.
We invented this approach, and honed it by solving touchpoint problems for some of the nation’s
biggest companies.
Now, this expertise has been codified and systematized to offer big results to companies of all
sizes, from 100 employees to over 10,000. Delivered through research and consulting engage-
ments, diagnostic surveys, audits and workshops, Touchpoint Mapping can help you measure
and improve the touchpoints that drive brand, marketing and customer experience results.

© 2009 MCorp Consulting, all rights reserved. Touchpoint Mapping® is a registered trademark of MCorp Consulting.
MCorp Consulting | Understanding Touchpoints and the CRL | 
MCorp Consulting

MCorp Consulting is a research, brand

and strategy consultancy that maps
and improves the touchpoints between
organizations and their customers,
delivering better brand, marketing and
customer experiences.
Touchpoint Mapping®, Brand MappingSM
and Loyalty Mapping® are proprietary
research and analytical tools for brand
marketers that take the guesswork out of
decision making with proven, actionable
and accurate data.