By Ibby Smith Stofer
No matter what business you may be in, each potential touchpoint your customers have with you can make or break your relationships. Some may believe that their jobs don’t impact any customers. That being said, If you spend a few moments looking at your company from the point of view of your consumers those assumptions prove to be off base.
You may be asking how an employee in a typical non-customer facing role interacts with your target customers. Let’s take a look at those interactions to get a clearer picture on how some of the touchpoints can influence purchasers.
Once a customer has identified a need or desire to purchase a product or service, they will often use the Internet to learn more about companies who offer those solutions. In addition to personal knowledge of companies, a search using a few keywords will quickly point the customer to multiple companies’ websites. Through keyword searches the word choices used to search will influence the order in which the companies appear. Marketing and SEO departments work hard to have their companies be the top options found related to their businesses. Most customers will then select more than one business to do further research on.
The Company’s Website
When customers continue their search, they will often end up on your company’s website. It is here that sales, marketing, IT and leadership must converge to ensure that the website delivers the intended message. Personalization on messaging, a mobile friendly design, compelling photos, videos and overall usability all bring your company to life for the customer. Mobile-friendly design might be one of the important components to a website. Responsive websites are becoming an absolute necessity for companies who hope to make and retain customers. If your website does not account for potential consumers on mobile devices, chances are that a visit to the site is detrimental to your brand and company image.
The website must have answers to the customers questions. The most important being: Can this company provide the product or solution that I need? After that question is answered, a good website will make it simple and easy to get in contact with a company representative. There should be many ways to contact a company from the website including a request a quote option if applicable. All of these functions go a long way in providing the customer with a positive online experience.
Reference and Reviews
Sometimes the website is sufficient and leads customers to reach out directly and begin the next phase of their selection. However, for some, the next step is often to seek references to get a confirming opinion of whether or not further interaction is worth the customer's time. They may seek out others in their industry to get recommendations and feedback. They may also turn to external organizations who rate and provide insights and opinions such as Group Purchasing Organizations, regional associations or national service providers.
Testimonials and reviews from current customers are an important aide for the customer. Reviews can establish that your company offers solutions explaining to your customers how you can meet their needs. Adding reviews to your site or linking to your off-site reviews such as Google, Yelp and Facebook, may help customers decide to work with you or not. Looking at reviews has become a standard part of the selection process. No matter if you are searching for a product on Amazon or a medical equipment rental company, a consumer will likely look at your reviews. One added point, sites that collect customer feedback and comments such as Google, Yelp and similar sites are often seen as more realistic as they contain comments that can be both positive and negative. Hence the importance of consistently asking your best customers to leave positive reviews for your company.
Follow Up Touch Points
Let’s assume that the customer contacts you, making the next touchpoint either a phone call or a request via the Internet. These calls typically go to an employee who works in sales. The first live interaction with a customer is critical. It can be written or verbal, but it must be customer centered and include a “Thank You for Your Interest.” Going further along the touchpoint journey we find that the structure of quotes, how phone calls are answered, response time, the clarity of invoicing, and the approach of accounts receivable each influence how the customer views your company.
If inadequate attention is paid to these areas, they can readily change the customer’s view and value they assign to your company. Simple things like misspelling a name or missing a promised delivery date can hurt your reputation and image. Your attention to detail in each customer touchpoint really does make a difference. Customer satisfaction goes well beyond the sales representative. No matter the job title, every employee has an impact on how the customer views your company.