Optimizing customer touchpoints for retail and eCommerce
Retail and eCommerce businesses have shifted in recent years to accommodate the rise of digitalization. Customers demand digital and user-friendly interactions with little tolerance for pain points. In fact, 86% of customers will leave after two bad experiences with a brand.
As successful as your product might be, it comes down to the quality of interactions you provide. Every interaction contributes to the customer’s impression of your brand and the overall experience they have while shopping with you.
Each touchpoint matters. The key is to identify and optimize them to meet the expectations of a digital world. In turn, you can boost conversions and improve your bottom line.
What is a customer touchpoint?
A customer touchpoint is an interaction between a customer and your brand that influences their perception of you. This can be anything from seeing an advertisement to speaking with customer support or downloading your app.
These touchpoints are mapped out throughout the customer journey and provide insight into how customers interact with your business. Each touchpoint offers retailers a chance to impress and satisfy customers, improving their overall experience.
Examples of touchpoints
Touchpoints exist in every stage of the customer journey. From pre-purchase to post-purchase, your every interaction will determine if they feel satisfied enough to become repeat customers. It’s essential to map out every time your customer comes in contact with your retail or eCommerce brand to determine if those interactions add value to the relationship or have developed into pain points.
Here are some typical touchpoints for retailers:
How to identify touchpoints
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and find every single point of contact they have with your brand. You can use feedback surveys and reviews to determine the emotions associated with each touchpoint and find pain points you didn’t know existed.
For example, a top eCommerce company in Taiwan, Petpetgo, found that Facebook ads and generalized email campaigns resulted in low return on advertising spend (ROAC). These touchpoints were not adding value to their potential and existing customers, which meant their bottom line was suffering.
By identifying the touchpoints that had a low impact on their customer relationship, Petpetgo could optimize them to boost satisfaction, ROAC, and overall experience. They doubled their purchasing frequency and reduced advertising spending by 10%.
How did they do it? With a combination of personalization and omnichannel solutions, the retailer started sending relevant content and promotions to the right customers at the right time.
The essentials of customer touchpoints
Throughout the customer journey, there are many ways to improve touchpoints using messaging in today’s digitalized world. Messaging and relevance play a huge role in your success in transforming touchpoints into seamless experiences.
Here are some messaging essentials to make sure you make the most of every touchpoint:
1. Focus on omnichannel and timely communication
These days, you must offer an omnichannel approach to your messaging. Communication should be well connected to ensure the most convenient service possible.
The bottom line is that customers’ busy lifestyles demand cross-channel integration on your side. Customers need their interactions with you to be as smooth as possible, and they always expect seamlessly connected and convenient communication.
Take advantage of peak periods of user activity by including valuable and relevant information in messages during crucial decision-making moments in the customer journey. Applying this mentality across all channels will encourage customers to positively associate with you and regard you as a reliable source, which is great in the long term for improving customer retention rate.
2. Make your communication contextual and behavior-based
Behavior-triggered messaging is about gaining customers’ attention at the right time. It is also key to offering smooth customer touchpoints. With an omnichannel communication center, retailers can automate event or behavior related messages, so they are sent at the right time to the right customers.
Offering a cohesive customer messaging experience comes down to knowing individual customer preferences based on their specific actions and behavior and anticipating their needs at any given time.
Make your communication touchpoints time or event-driven, and always have something relevant to say to your customers. A personal touch is also the perfect way to re-engage customers who may be on the fence, seem disengaged, or have shown any periods of inactivity. What’s more, compelling, personalized offers and incentives get attention and stand out above all other types of generic digital noise.
Time-sensitive communications are a powerful tool in gaining retention – in fact, 63% of people say that receiving a discount within an hour of interacting with a brand will help drive loyalty.
3. Be conversational
Artificial Intelligence has its advantages, but when dealing with customers, people want conversational and meaningful interactions. The key is to be both personable and efficient without alienating the customer in any way. Think less robot and more chatbot supported by an actual human.
Ultimately, customers respond to human-to-human communication, and continuous conversations are the way to achieve this.
Using seamless CRM and customer service integrations allows instant, interactive, and more personable communication between brands and customers – a recipe for customer satisfaction and overall better touchpoints.
4. Listen and engage with your customers
With the ability to send feedback surveys directly to your customers’ fingertips, you need to ensure you’re listening to their feedback and making changes.
Make sure your messages come across as effortless and natural – nobody likes forced, insincere patter. Be sure to pay particular attention to the times your users are most active to avoid bothering them when they are unavailable and readily using the app(s). Finally, ensure you have something to say or add to make the encounter meaningful.
Being receptive to your customers doesn’t apply to initial interactions with them but all ongoing communication. Being thoughtful and creative with your re-engagement is worthwhile when the need eventually arises.
5. Make sure your messages fit the style of the channel
When messaging customers via apps like Viber and WhatsApp, you need to fit in with the other messages they will receive. Most of their contacts are likely family and friends, so if you send a formal business message, it could be seen as invasive and get ignored.
In today’s climate, you must be prepared to interact with your customers how, where, and whenever they choose. Give customers a choice of receiving messages by email, SMS, or even via chat, and ask when they want to get the messages. Are you sending messages to people when they are likely to read but not act?
When maintaining effortless communication, think of an all-around user experience and consider timing and relevance for the user.
Leverage the likes of mobile app messages, chat apps, and RCS to embed clickable buttons that ensure customers can reply easily and quickly. If you want your customers to participate in touchpoints, you need to make it as easy and painless as possible for them to comply.
6. Always add value
Great customer messaging touchpoints always add value. When you have a customer’s contact details, don’t take advantage of that to send a stream of ads or reminders to visit your website.
Your messages should offer something that makes your customer’s life easier and happier.
Where possible, always give your customers options – people love the freedom to choose. Provide helpful and exciting content customized to suit their interests and preferences.
Tactics to improve touchpoints
Learning where and how to apply these essentials can make or break your touchpoints. But they allow you to optimize your interactions and improve the overall experience.
Of course, there are some touchpoints that you can’t directly optimize, such as word of mouth or customer reviews. But with time and determination, customer satisfaction scores will go up, leading to better experiences and more positive reviews.
Let’s break down ways to optimize touchpoints throughout the customer journey to improve experiences:
87% of online shoppers use social media while shopping for products. They browse social pages to learn more about products before making a purchase. Make sure everything they need to know is readily available, up to date, and accessible on your social pages.
- Use metrics to determine which posts perform the best and lead to conversions.
- Create a strategy around your customer’s behavior and leave them with a great impression after viewing your social page.
Tip: Remove the need to switch between apps. If a customer is browsing your social page and sees a product they like- allow them to buy the product right there instead of visiting your eCommerce site, where checkout pain points often occur. The rise of social commerce is not slowing down. Gartner predicts that 60% of millennials will prefer to make purchases on their favorite social platforms over traditional eCommerce sites. Give them a simpler and faster way to purchase products, adding value to the entire interaction.
Similar to social media, metrics are key. Use metrics to determine which ads got the most interactions and which campaigns led to greater conversions. This will help you determine which ads are relevant to your audience and which missed the mark.
Tip: Relevance is essential since the modern online shopper expects brands to know what is relevant to them and gets irritated with content that doesn’t carry meaning. A customer data platform can help you gather data on your customers and segment them based on their interests, allowing you to send targeted campaigns to the right customers.
Many customers still turn to blogs to learn more about products. Let’s say you have a cosmetics brand. Customers would benefit from a blog with content related to beauty, skincare, and overall health. Add links for products related to the topics you cover in your posts.
Tip: Learn about your customer’s intent to make this touchpoint count. Why are they visiting your blog, and what do they hope to learn from it? SEO research can go a long way in ensuring you write content with the right intent that interests your audience, adding value to their interaction with you.
Making an account
Pain points most often occur during the purchasing process. Some customers can find it troublesome or annoying to have to make an account or login before making a purchase. Do some digging and find out what part of the login or account creation process could be smoother for your customers.
Tip: If you’ve been collecting and segmenting data on your customers, you have insight into which communication channels they prefer to use and which devices they use to shop. Send verification messages or codes over their favorite channel to make the login process as simple as possible.
Website or app browsing
There are a variety of touchpoints on your website and app, from the download process to product browsing. Customers consider this entire experience when deciding if they will make a purchase.
Tip: Send push notifications based on their browsing history. Send them relevant discounts on products they viewed, enticing them to reopen the app and complete the purchase. Adding a touchpoint like this can improve sales and shows customers you know them well.
A major pet peeve for customers is when they have a complaint and try to communicate with customer support only to meet long waiting queues. Customer support is a critical touchpoint for eCommerce retailers, as it is usually the first and sometimes only time customers interact with employees. It’s essential to ensure this interaction is smooth and that customers leave with a positive impression of your brand.
Tip: Add a chatbot to your customer support team and a cloud contact center solution for optimized performance from service agents. Your brand can interact with customers on their favorite channels by adding a chatbot. With natural language processing (NLP) technology, chatbots can provide a real conversational experience, speed up resolution time and ensure customers are left satisfied.
If there is still a need to speak with an agent, the chatbot can quickly transfer them to an employee who has a full view of the conversation and can pick up where the chatbot left off.
85% of retailers say that poor checkout processes are the reason for lost sales. Don’t let this critical touchpoint turn customers off from your brand. Optimize the process by reducing the number of clicks and pages needed to complete the purchase.
Tip: Once the order has been placed, avoid sending order confirmations over email. Instead, send it over WhatsApp, Viber, or whatever communication channel they prefer. This way, you can ensure it does not get lost in promotional inboxes and customers get automatic assurance their purchase is on the way.
Ensuring your customers receive their receipts and billing documents is important for eCommerce businesses. This touchpoint will reflect on your company’s reliability and give customers peace of mind that their online purchase was secure.
Tip: Use rich messaging (RCS) to elevate this touchpoint. You can send branded messages to customers with PDF documents of their receipts and bills, ensuring they can trust your brand and that they won’t overlook the message.
There is nothing worse than a poor delivery process. Even if a third party is delivering the product, make sure you are proactive and notify the customer throughout the process. Any changes or delays need to be communicated before your customer reaches out to you.
Tip: You can optimize this touchpoint by allowing two-way communication over channels such as WhatsApp or Messenger. Let customers track their purchases and resolve their questions quickly over these chat apps. This will allow you to smooth any pain points during the delivery process and leaves a positive impression on your brand.
Collecting feedback is critical to understanding which touchpoints are working and which aren’t. Send feedback surveys and ask customers to rate their experience with you.
Tip: Make it even easier for customers to give feedback with call-to-action buttons or by prompting simple replies in chat apps. Remove the need to switch pages and complete a survey online and provide them with an easier way to give you valuable feedback.
Returns and exchanges
It’s always a disappointment when customers return a product, but if you make it a painless touchpoint for them, they will likely order something from you again.
Tip: Allow customers to request return tickets over any channel and provide them with the documents they need right in the app. This will ensure customers can quickly access what they need and leave them satisfied with your brand, even if they weren’t 100% satisfied with the product.
Targeted promotions and re-engagement
Remember how we said relevance is key for advertisements? Well, that’s actually true for every interaction you have with your customers. If you have been segmenting and learning about your customer’s needs, you will know exactly which promotions and content will interest them the most. Take it a step further by integrating omnichannel solutions into your communication stack. You can send them relevant campaigns on the channels they trust and love.
Tip: With an omnichannel solution, you can use geo-targeting to send customers relevant deals based on where they are. When they are close to your retail store, send them special deals available only when they come to shop in your store. This is the beginning of retail touchpoints marketing that you can employ to get through to your customers and establish a connection that draws their attention and consequent interactions with your store.
Create customer-centric touchpoints
Customer touchpoints happen throughout the customer journey. Once you learn what customers want from your brand, you can create great experiences through touchpoints. By following these tips and practicing proactive outreach, you can create worthwhile and memorable experiences for your customers, with their needs center focused. You will build painless touchpoints and strong relationships that keep them coming back for more.