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By Stephen Murphy | Branding Strategist
Every single instance of customer contact with your brand can be a described as a touchpoint. Individually and collectively, these experiences shape their impression of your brand. This is why it’s so important that where you can control these encounters, you should make sure everything is aligned and “on-message”. Where you’ve inconsistencies, this can critically damage your brand.
Take for example Restaurant X, a well-known high-end eatery where you decide to treat your "important other" to a romantic dinner for two.
The friendly and professional Maître D greets you on arrival and brings you to your table by the bay window. The setting is all crisp white linens, candles, glasses and silver cutlery with an exotic floral arrangement at the centre. Warm, freshly baked bread and dips appear magically in front of you. So far, so great!
Alas, when you receive the menus, you notice they're smudged and slightly dog-eared from use. Your waiter arrives and is sullen to the point of being rude. The wine you select from their list is out of stock. You order a 'medium' rib-eye steak but it arrives "well-done'. When you bring this to the attention of the waiter he removes your plate and returns 15 minutes later with a replacement, correctly done. But, no apology. Your companion has already finished their main course. Oh dear.
The rest of the evening is incident-free, but the experience hasn't lived up to what you’d expected. This was supposed to be a special occasion. How do you feel?
On paper, the restaurant had a lot of its touchpoints aligned, but it's the skewed ones that leave their lasting impression on you.
Will you ever return to Restaurant X? What will you tell your friends and colleagues of your experience? Will you review your night on Tripadvisor?
The above example highlights the fact that small irregularities in your brand touchpoints while seemingly minor can quickly add up to a major breach of trust as far as your audience is concerned. Conversely, if there'd been no issues and the evening had lived up to the reputation of the restaurant, how differently would you have felt then? Planning your next visit perhaps?
Every touchpoint plays a part in reinforcing your brand's positioning in your customer's mind. Remember:
So how do you recognise these touchpoints, let alone manage them?
Considering a customer will probably have numerous contacts with your brand during their buying process, the potential list is pretty vast. That said, the following are examples of some of the more obvious and controllable touchpoints you need to include: