A brand’s reputation is built on touch points. You might also hear these referred to as moments of truth or contact points. If you reverse-engineer a brand that makes you say “wow” – if you go backwards from the point of your last purchase and think about every step where you had an interaction with the brand – you’ll find touch points that were very well-planned and absolutely consistent with the brand’s image and message.
For instance, you might see an ad with a discount or information about an upcoming sale at your favorite store. The outfit in the photo, as well as the attitude of the model wearing it, draw you in. (The ad is touch point #1.)
You decide you have to have it, and you head off to the store. You enter through a door with a logo overhead (one you’ve come to know and love), flanked by windows mindfully, wonderfully, playfully stuffed with clothes like the ones you saw in the ad. (The entryway is touch point #2.)
You’re greeted by an employee who cheerfully welcomes you, asks genuinely about your day, and offers you assistance. She’s the kind of gal you’d have coffee with. (The greeter is touch point #3.)
You’re introduced to another employee at the fitting room when it’s time to try something on. (The fitting room attendant is in charge of touch point #4.) This is the kind of girl you’d trust with your personal styling. She’s wearing the kind of thing you’d wear. She asks your name, offers to get you additional sizes or provide you alternative options. She smiles and asks about your day. She seems to actually care about how you’ll look when you wear this outfit later.
A third associate greets you at the register when you check out. (The cashier, and her warm goodbye, make up touch point #5). She asks how everything went. She comments on what a great choice you made, and wraps up your purchase in a branded bag. (The cotton sack you’ll carry your lunch in tomorrow? It’s touch point #6.)
In today’s world, she also likely asks if you want your receipt emailed or printed. If you choose email, your receipt lands in your inbox. (Email receipt. Bam. Touch point #7.) And you get a ping from your smart phone as you walk out that well-branded door.
Your favorite store now has you on a list, so they can “touch” you with great content again and again.
That’s seven times in a single visit that a brand touched you, and we haven’t even mentioned the merchandise.
So reverse-engineer your favorite brand and the last purchase you made. Take a look at your experience in each of their touch points. Remember, this is your favorite brand. How did the brand, and its internal tribe, behave at each of these points? How did it make you feel?
Great branding is not about colors, fonts and logos. It’s about the way we make people feel. Well-planned touch points create connections, and those connections lead to trust, which leads to loyalty.
At this point you may be saying, “My business is online. I have no store and no employees. This doesn’t apply to me.”
Sorry, you’re not off the hook.
Selling anything online, from products to information services, requires even greater attention to touch points. After all, how will you create real connections with potential buyers – how will you build trust and loyalty – if you never actually speak to them?
Have you ever landed on a website you couldn’t navigate?
Have you ever tried to contact a company directly, and couldn’t find the contact information?
Have you ever ordered something and when it showed up it was nothing like you expected?
Made an appointment online that was somehow screwed up?
Looked for pricing for an online service and couldn’t find it?
Encountered a snotty customer service rep on the phone?
Had an error in your bank statement?
These are examples of touch points gone wrong. And they’re very common examples. These are things we experience all the time!
Take a look at your company’s touch points. Identify every little place where you touch your customers. And ask yourself, honestly, “How would this make me feel?”
In small businesses, we tend to give ourselves breaks. We think: This isn’t Amazon. We’re just a tiny company. No one expects us (or me) to have a big brand. I can’t compete with these big companies.
When we do this, we sell ourselves, and our businesses, terribly short.
As you build your brand, don’t compare yourself to the small business down the street, or like-sized businesses on the web. Compare yourself with the greatest of the great. Don’t build a brand that’s “good enough.” Build a brand that knocks their socks off.
Start with your touch points. And one-by-one, make each moment of truth a “wow” experience. This doesn’t have to cost much in terms of dollars. The cost comes in the time it takes to build a strategy and a plan, and in the energy it takes to commit to absolute consistency.
How does your favorite brand touch you? Let me know in the comments below.