Customer Touch Point MapHave you ever bought a product or service where you were excited about your decision to buy (maybe after a rigorous buying process), only to be very disappointed by the delivery? It happens all the time. Buyers deal with a great sales person, but delivery is slow, installation sloppy, customer service doesn’t solve problems and/or accounting doesn’t understand what the customer is trying to communicate.

Any dissatisfaction your customers experience could be due to the smallest issues that are easily resolved. To identify any issues or “friction,” you can use a customer touch point map to analyze your customers’ experience.

The customer touch point analysis is an easy exercise that can provide amazing results. This analysis allows you to scrutinize all the points at which your company touches customers and assess how you perform on each touch point. The objective is to identify any touch points that cause friction (problems) for the customer and resolve the friction.

The biggest challenge in doing this analysis is in being open and honest about what is really going on and acting and solving the problems. It’s easy to defend your business practices. It’s hard to open up and say, “Hey, what are we doing wrong?” “How can we fix it?”

So, be brave. Open up and ask the question, “How can we do it better?” Involve your employees and get their feedback. You’ll be surprised. They will appreciate you for including them in the effort, and you will get information you may not have known before.

Customer Touch Point Maps can take the form of a simple text list or a graphical representation of touch points, as shown above. It’s an exercise that any company can and should do, with the goal of improving the customer experience.

Recently I worked on a customer touch point map for a department at an institution that was founded in 1891. The particular department had been operating for over 40 years and was known for excellence in education. They had lots of customers, many years of touch points. Even though the department provided an excellent product and customer service, we found some touch points that needed attention. The primary reason for the friction was that customer expectations and behaviors had changed over the years and my client’s delivery needed to change meet them.

For example, customers would travel from all over the country to attend classes at the institution. We found out that some customers had a hard time finding the building where the classes took place even though they had the address and used maps and the directions we provided. This is a very small part of the entire customer experience, but it caused friction and could be easily resolved by providing a picture of the building in customer registration materials. We also realized that sending the registration confirmation via snail mail was limiting in today’s world. Many customers never received the materials because they traveled so much. We changed the process to send confirmations by snail mail and email to ensure delivery.

Have you done a Customer Touch Point Map? What did you find? Were you able to improve your customers’ experience?

[This blog post was originally posted on Jennifer Beever’s B2B Marketing Traction Blog.]