Here at MB, we’re all students. Every day includes lessons learned about marketing.
Or perhaps we just take lessons about everything and just make them about marketing.
Over the weekend, I was a very enthusiastic attendee at UXcamp Ottawa. Technology, and how we leverage it to improve the human experience fascinates the stuffing out of me: and this conference was right up my alley. Though it wasn’t a marketing conference, per se, there were some ‘ah-ha!’ moments that arose from it (User Experience is a specialized field that intersects web design and accessibility theory, and seeks to improve the experience that people have while using your website or application).
Marketing + Touchpoints
What I want to talk about with you today is the idea of touchpoints in the user experience cycle. And on a larger scale, how sales and marketing touchpoints should be much bigger than just the interactions between a consumer and your website.
A ‘touchpoint’ as it relates to user experience is any point where the user interacts with your product or brand. On a website, the touchpoints most focused on by marketing people tend to be contact forms (for lead generation websites) and shopping carts (eCommerce websites). After all, these touchpoints are the last crucial step where a customer’s interest (and money) will either come to your business, or not.
Designing a website or mobile application to provide an excellent user experience across all the major touchpoints of the interaction is challenging. But when you get it right, the experience is engaging and tends to convert customers into brand ambassadors and advocates (you want this; trust me, it’s a huge marketing win).
Though a question nags… so what? If your website or mobile application is fantastic and your in-store or product experience is sub-par… none of the excellence provided by your website will matter, because customers simply won’t return (a best case scenario – in the worst case scenario, they actively gripe about their poor experience to friends, family, and the internet-at-large).
Marketing + Touchpoints + Your Business
How do we address this?
- Design (or redesign) your marketing and sales system to incorporate excellence into all of your touchpoints, offline and online.
- Eradicate (with extreme prejudice) the barriers that silo your marketing and sales assets. Tinker until everything in the system works together with a unified vision and set of goals.
- Stop thinking about what your website should tell your customers and start thinking about how your website can help your customers.
- Think like a customer. If you were buying from your business, what would you:
- Need to experience?
- Want to experience?
- Couldn’t ever imagine that you would experience? (in a good way)
You want to get to “C”. “C” means more return business, more.
scratch that… blown away customers, and the conversion of your most loyal customers to the most fervent of brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors will sell your products and services for you. For free (actually, since they already buy your products, they’re essentially paying you to sell your products and services for you). What’s the difference between where you are now, and “C”?
Creating a Total Touchpoint Experience
Let’s say that I own a hardware store, with rather limited space in the checkout area (brick and mortar retail success metric: revenue/sq. ft’ – to maximize profitability, you need to get as much product on your sales floor as possible).
Because I’m an independent player, and rents are expensive, I have two checkout registers. Normally, this is fine, as I serve ten or twenty retail customers an hour (contractors tend to have an account, call ahead, and I don’t ring them through the retail registers). But what if I run a killer promotion? What if suddenly, I’m serving fifty customers an hour and the average wait time in the queue at checkout balloons to 10 minutes or more?
Now I have irritated customers who are frustrated and may not return; I’ve essentially bought their dissatisfaction by slashing my margins on the product that they bought. What could I have done, though? It’s not like I can temporarily scale up and add in two or three cash registers to deal with spikes in customer traffic. There isn’t space in my store… and integrating new registers takes time and large outlays of capital.
What if I eliminated the checkout queues altogether, by eliminating the cash registers? With the introduction of payment dongles for mobile devices, and the financial infrastructure to support them, I can turn a tablet (iPad, Android, or BlackBerry Playbook) into a handheld cash register. All of a sudden, every staffer I have on the sales floor can be both a salesperson and a checkout. I’ve not only eliminated the customer hassle of long queues at a designated checkout area, but I’ve increased the amount of floor space available for product, and I’ve empowered every person on my staff to deliver a unified (and seamless) purchasing experience.
What if I integrated this touchpoint experience into my website? What if my customers could book an appointment to purchase or return an item before even entering the store? If a customer wanted to return an item, what if I could increase the odds of a successful sale recovery by scheduling this appointment to take place in the aisle where alternative product choices are displayed?
I’m very sorry that this power drill doesn’t meet your needs, Mr. Smith. Let’s take a look at a few of the other ones that we carry, and you can try them out before leaving the store. I’ve set up a 2 by 4 and a power supply at the end of the aisle and have some drill bits handy – we’ll make sure that this one’s a winner for you.
This is the power of taking user experience principles and applying them to the overall customer experience. When you start thinking about how every single touchpoint in your business relates to the experience that your customers have when dealing with you, success becomes predictable… and inevitable.
Let’s stop treating the sales and marketing assets like separate entities, and start treating them like points of interaction in a unified customer experience. Let’s give our customers a reason to be delighted by every single interaction they have with us: online, on-the-go, in-store, in-home, or over the phone.
Let’s give your customers a total touchpoint experience so powerful that they balk at the idea of ever buying from your competitors. Curious? Why not ask us a question on our Facebook page?