Customers have high expectations whether their interactions with the company are personal or electronic. They associate brand with quality, style, and impeccable service. For them, the brand is both a product line and a feeling that they expect to experience every time they "touch" the company in-store, online, or by telephone. At each of these "touchpoints" they expect consistent selection, access, return policies, sense of belonging, and service.
Smart companies that operate as "bricks and clicks" with both storefronts and Web site channels, know that multiple touch points can increase sales. Recent studies have shown that customers who touch retailers at multiple points spend more than three times as much on average as those who do not. However, each touchpoint interaction must be satisfying and consistent with interactions at other touchpoints in order to effect customer purchasing behaviors. Just one poor interaction or one glitch at one touch point can cause customers, one-by-one, to spend their limited time and their money elsewhere.
Retail companies can't wait for quarterly sales reports to learn whether or not customers' experience is contributing to profitability. They need real-time information to help identify performance deficiencies and respond with improvement initiatives. They need in-depth analysis of the ways in which customer experience is affecting brand image and purchasing behavior.
Multi-touch point performance assessment is a leading-edge approach to helping companies manage factors that contribute to satisfying and consistent customer experience. In multi-touch point performance assessment, impartial third-party researchers interact with the company in numerous ways, mimicking the typical cross-channel transactions of real customers from their first encounters through order fulfillment and order return.
Take the Web site shopping experience, for example. Trained researchers observe and record details about their online experience in order to answer key questions, such as:
- Is navigation easy? Does the site function as intended?
- Is the look-and-feel of the site in synch the company's brand image? Is the content informative, entertaining, interactive and written in an appropriate tone?
- Is the purchasing process clear? Is the return policy easily accessible and understandable?
Researchers may order an item online or, as is the case with a large percentage of online shoppers, place their orders through a call center. When talking with call center representatives, researchers assess their encounters against indicators of courtesy, sincerity, problem-solving ability, and product knowledge. Once items are ordered, researchers track and report on the delivery and return process. They check timeliness, accuracy and ease, each of which are crucial components of the fulfillment and return touch point experience. Additional touch points, including email, catalogue, live chat, fax, and comment cards, also can come under scrutiny during multi-channel performance assessment.
A successful performance assessment program allows the use of multi-touch point metrics to pinpoint improvement opportunities in strategy, communications, marketing, and performance management.
Smart companies that operate as "bricks and clicks" with both storefronts and Web site channels, know that multiple touch points can increase sales.