How can you influence how people perceive your business?
The touchpoints in your business are a vital key. You need to get your touchpoints right if you want people to sit up and take notice of your business.
But, what are touchpoints in business?
Can we really influence how people perceive us?
And what mistakes do people often make when they try to manage their touchpoints?
Let’s take a deep dive into your business’s most important touchpoints!
What are touchpoints in business?
A touchpoint is a specific medium of communication through which people interact with your business. Touchpoints are most commonly talked about in relation to the interactions that customers have as they move along the customer journey. However, touchpoints are also applicable to other forms of communication.
The reason you should take a “holistic” view touchpoints is that people will interact with your business in a multitude of different ways. It’s not enough to just focus on one touchpoint in isolation.
You want to have as much control as possible over people’s experience of your business. That means that your touchpoints need to be aligned.
The more you are aware of how people are interacting with your business, the better you can influence people’s perception of the business.
There are now more touchpoints than ever!
In the past, people had very few ways to interact with businesses.
For brick-and-mortar retail companies (i.e. those where the physical premises are central to the business) people would just come to your building in person or they would call you up over the phone.
For marketing touchpoints, the traditional options were basically just advertising and word of mouth. There were various forms of advertising (e.g. newspaper, public bulletin board, radio) and you had very little control over word of mouth marketing.
The customer journey was simple. Someone would see your advert or hear about you from a friend. Then, they would get in contact in person, by post, or by telephone.
These days, everything has changed.
There are now more touchpoints to businesses than ever before. Twitter, email newsletters, press release distribution services, LinkedIn, video sales platforms, virtual summits, trade publications, events, … and the list goes on and on.
We now also have far more control over each of the touchpoints that we use in business. Even the smallest one-person business will have potentially dozens of touchpoints with customers. We can measure the effectiveness of each touchpoint to a much higher degree than was ever possible in the past.
This plethora of options can be a good thing…
But, it’s also extremely confusing!
People often run around in circles trying to manage all of the various touchpoints that people can have with their business.
As a result of their confusion, many businesses make mistakes.
The 3 common mistakes when planning business touchpoints
If you’re planning to assess your business’s touchpoints, there are a few core mistakes that you want to avoid making.
Here are the top 3 common mistakes I’ve seen people making when they plan their business touchpoints:
Mistake 1: Leaving your touchpoints up to chance
If you have never considered your business’s touchpoints before, you are not alone!
While many of the world’s top companies do think about their touchpoints extensively, I’d say that most businesses don’t. Many businesses leave all their touchpoint interactions up to chance.
I’ve certainly been guilty of ignoring the touchpoints in my own business. Even though I interact with people through many different channels, I’ve just assumed that each channel is “doing its thing correctly.”
But, leaving your touchpoint planning up to chance is a bad idea. It means you basically have no control over how your business comes across to other people.
How can you expect to influence people’s perceptions of your business if you don’t know how it’s already perceived?
Mistake 2: Assuming its all about marketing
I think it’s fair to say that many larger businesses leave the management of their touchpoints up to the marketing team.
People often assume that touchpoints are just about attracting new customers. They put time, effort, and money into “optimizing the customer journey.”
Of course, it’s very important to optimize your customer journey. However, touchpoints are about much more than just marketing.
Consider your hiring process…
When you need to hire new employees, what are the touchpoints each candidate interacts with?
Some touchpoints that influence each candidate’s perception of your company during the hiring process are:
- The job advert copy
- Your company’s website
- Your company’s application form
- The application form of any recruiters you use
- The representatives of recruiters
- Your email correspondence with each candidate
- The interview(s)
- Phone calls with the candidate
- The job offer email or letter
And this is just before the candidate becomes an employee!
When the person is offered the job, there are dozens more touchpoints before that person becomes an integral part of the company.
During that entire process, their perception of your company is vital. If they perceive the company badly, they might reject the offer initially or leave the post after being hired, costing you even more time, money, and energy.
Hopefully, you get the idea — touchpoints are relevant to everybody’s perception of your business… not just the perceptions of prospects and customers.
Mistake 3: Only caring about one or two touchpoints
In the world of business, it’s important to focus your efforts. If we try to do everything, we end up doing nothing well.
The only problem with this way of thinking is that it can lead companies to focus all their efforts on one or two touchpoints of their business. For example, they might just look at Twitter interactions and the company website.
Sure, this type of focus is a good option when, say, you’re choosing which of the dozens of social medias to invest your resources into. Maybe you will choose to only use TikTok or only use LinkedIn because research shows that these are the best platforms for your audience.
However, if you only care about a couple of touchpoints, you are neglecting all the other touchpoints that your business already has.
Can people contact you via email?
Can they talk to your people on the phone?
Will they read about your company on Trustpilot?
These touchpoints don’t go away just because you don’t pay attention to them.
Every interaction that someone can have with your business is an important touchpoint and requires conscious thought.
Why voice and consistency are vital when picking your touchpoints
One of the major struggles I see companies having is that their business voice is inconsistent across many of their touchpoints.
You look at the company’s website and it gives you one impression of the business.
You talk to one of their sales reps and they give you another impression.
You talk to one of their customer service reps and they give you yet another impression.
In the end, the business starts to feel rather disjointed and often dysfunctional.
What’s going on here!?
Voice: Who are you and why should we listen to you?
Have you ever found that you prefer some people over others?
With some people, you instantly like them. You feel comfortable in their presence, you enjoy communicating with them, and you find it easy to trust them.
With other people, you are unsure about them from the start. You feel awkward or even creeped out in their presence, communicating with them is uncomfortable or actively stressful, and you wouldn’t even trust them to throw a stick for your dog.
Well… the same is true for businesses.
The Voice of Your Business is what gives people the ability to trust you. It’s through this voice that your personality as a business is communicated to other people.
When you get this voice right, people will understand who you are as a business. They will understand what you stand for and why they should listen to you.
Hopefully, some of those people will connect with that voice on both an emotional and a logical level. When your business speaks, they will feel like they “belong.”
People should feel this comfort across all of your touchpoints.
Consistency: Are you sending mixed messages?
Imagine that you go to a dinner party and you are sat next to someone called Brian.
You’ve never met Brian before but he seems like an okay guy. He is soft spoken, makes small talk, and seems amiable enough.
About an hour passes and Brian suddenly changes how he’s communicating with you. He becomes gruff when he speaks, cuts down every topic you try to offer to the conversation, and talks about himself loudly.
Another hour passes and suddenly Brian changes how he’s communicating again! He becomes very sweet and gentle. He asks you lots of questions about yourself and listens intently to everything you say.
Towards the end of the meal, Brian changes his communication style yet again! He becomes very matter-of-fact and awkward. He tells you that you need to pay for his expensive taxi ride home… “because he asked you to.”
Do you trust Brian?
At the very least, you are likely very suspicious of Brian’s motives and reliability as a person. I doubt that you want to pay for his taxi ride!
This situation might seem a bit bizarre, but it’s exactly what happens to people who interact with some businesses.
The voice that such businesses use across their touchpoints is completely inconsistent.
With every interaction, it can feel like you’re getting yet another unwelcome glimpse into the deranged mind of Weird Brian.
Communicating with such businesses is far from being comfortable!
As consumers, we often endure this inconsistency because we have to. We expect that calls to customer services will mostly be horrible. We expect that salespeople will be overly friendly and pushy. We expect a company’s website to be “all about them.”
But, those companies that do manage to have a consistent voice across all of their touchpoints are extremely effective as a result.
Which type do you want your business to be?
15 touchpoints that affect people’s perception of your business
Hopefully, you are starting to get an idea of the reason that touchpoints are a vital part of any business. Your business should present a clear voice that is consistent across all of its avenues of communication.
What are examples of touchpoints that you might use?
Here are 15 common touchpoints that affect people’s perception of your business:
1. Sales representatives
A sales rep is often the first “real person” that people communicate with. As a result, your sales reps hold a huge responsibility for how customers perceive your business.
It doesn’t matter how much marketing content a prospect has consumed before they speak to a sales rep, the rep’s “voice” has a huge impact on people’s perception of your business (by “voice” here, I mean many factors including their physical speaking voice, manner, approach, personality, etc).
2. Customer services
Unlike sales reps, your customer service channels interact with people who are already your customers. This can leave many companies to drop the ball when they train their customer service reps.
Some of the worst interactions I’ve had with companies are through their customer service reps! I’m sure you’re the same. But, this failing by many companies also means customer service offers a huge opportunity to stand out in your market.
3. Hiring and job adverts
As I mentioned above, the hiring process is full of touchpoints. One of the first touchpoints that people encounter is the job advert, either on your website or a recruiter’s website.
It’s surprising to me how few companies use this opportunity to make a great first impression. During hiring, you’re looking to attract the best people to your team. Doesn’t it make sense to treat them as being as important as your customers? If not more important! The job advert is a superb opportunity to make an impression on those people you most want to attract.
4. Webinars and presentations
Thousands of webinars and presentations are being given every day in businesses. Internal presentations communicate your voice, values, and information to those people in your teams. External communications (e.g. sales pitches, investor pitches) demonstrate who you are as a business to the outside world.
As a professional speaking coach, I can tell you that very few people in businesses excel at these types of communication. By even just making a small improvement, you can make a huge impact on the Voice of Your Business and really stand out in your industry.
5. Website or app
The website is one of the few touchpoints that people do focus on.
In fact, some businesses focus exclusively on their website or app! Some branding agencies also often focus entirely on their clients’ websites. This means that the “brand voice” that branding agencies include in their work often works well on the website but is hard to translate to other touchpoints.
6. Social medias
Everyone knows that you need to be on social media, right?
I see many businesses focusing so much of their efforts on the social media touchpoints that they neglect all others. While social media is important, each platform usually has only two or three potential touchpoints that you can use (your posts, your comments on other people’s posts, and direct messages). There are so many more touchpoints in your business!
Lots of businesses run or attend events. These can be very impactful touchpoints because people get to speak directly to real people from your company.
Recently, there have been many more online events. These offer a different set of touchpoints and need to be managed in a completely different way to offline events.
Back in the days of Mad Men, there were only a handful of advert spaces where people could come into contact with your business.
Now, there are so many different advert possibilities for your business. It can get overwhelming — and expensive! — if you chase after them all without a solid strategy.
9. Word of mouth
You might not think of word of mouth as being a touchpoint because you don’t have much control over what people say about your business.
But, word of mouth is one of the strongest touchpoints. What people say about you has a huge effect on what others think about you. You certainly shouldn’t ignore this touchpoint or leave it up to chance.
Plus, you can actually influence this touchpoint more than you’d think.
Newspapers, magazines, trade publications, newsletters… many different publications could be touchpoints for your business.
Some publications give you a lot of control over how your business comes across. This is a good thing and means you can be conscious about the voice that is used to describe your business.
With media touchpoints, there is a little overlap with “publications.” However, many more channels of media beyond publications can influence people’s perceptions of your business.
One of the major factors with media is that you often don’t have much as much control over what is said about your business and how it is said. Even so, there is a lot you can influence.
Some people love formal networking, other people hate it. But, it’s undeniable that networking is a strong touchpoint for your business.
Every time you or someone from your teams talks to another person about your business, they are both affecting how people perceive the business and opening up potential opportunities for the business.
Think about that for a moment…
… then wonder why companies don’t put as much effort into training people in networking skills as they do in developing the graphic design on their website.
13. Internal communications
Just because some people work in your company doesn’t mean that those people don’t count when you’re designing your touchpoints.
Your people are probably the most important when it comes to influencing perceptions of your business. If your own people aren’t fully convinced of the value and integrity of your business, how on earth will they convince customers to put trust in you?
Internal communications are a key touchpoint for building the trust and passion of your own people.
Some people claim that emails are dead (mostly social media marketing companies, I think). The huge number of actionable emails that come into my account every day is a testament to the fact that this is clearly nonsense.
Emails are an extremely important touchpoint for your business. And that doesn’t mean just marketing emails. Any email that your people send out on behalf of your business is another potential touchpoint.
15. Impromptu conversations
I’m going to restate the point that I made in “networking” above, just in case you missed it…
Any time someone communicates with anyone about your business, they are influencing people’s perception of your business.
This applies to impromptu conversations as much as it does to more formal touchpoints.
Each communication is an opportunity to communicate who you are as a business. Each is an opportunity to use a clear Voice of Your Business that authentically represents who you are and what you stand for.
How to get the touchpoints in your business right
There are huge possibilities for improving how you use the touchpoints in your business.
But, how do you start?
You need a process that helps you to improve your touchpoints gradually.
A good place to start this process is to do an audit of the touchpoints you already have.
Identify which are the highest impact and focus on these first. This doesn’t mean ignoring your other touchpoints, it just means focusing your energy.
Then, investigate the voice that currently comes across in that touchpoint. Look for what’s working. Look for what’s not working so well.
And identify those areas where you can improve!
So…which touchpoints are most important for your business?