By Adam Wakefield

Touch points are the life blood of any business, because it is where they trade information, transact with, or offer a service to the customer.

At an event at Kantar Millward Brown’s Johannesburg offices, at the end of September, Kantar TNS global head of shopper, Lee Smith, and Kantar TNS global head of communications research, Anne Rayner, spoke about the importance of touch point management, and the challenges businesses face in interacting with consumers in a digital marketplace.

Rayner noted that 95% of businesses acknowledge the importance of having a touch point management system in place, but only 7% believe they have such a system in place.

According to Rayner, the touch point management challenges facing businesses “fit in three broad buckets”. The challenges are:

  • There are so many touch points, with each one having the potential to influence, but not all of them do;
  • Consumers expect a seamless experience regardless of where they choose to interact with a brand, yet most businesses are still organised in silos; and
  • It is no longer clear which role is done by each touch point. Touch points are multitasking.

Touch point fragmentation

Beginning with touch point fragmentation, Rayner says the belief that consumer’s memory works like a video recorder still pervades the marketing sphere.

“This is not how memory works. Memory is a continually updated reconstruction of the past. You do not remember the experience itself. You are remembering your memory of the experience,” she said.

“Our memory is not as accurate as we think it is. Every time you remember again, it update’s those memories. That’s the same with touch points.”

Consumers will not necessarily use touch points as intended. Marketers must focus on the moments that matter, where consumers interact with touch points at a time where their feelings about a brand can be engaged with.

“I’ve got some good news in this stressful world of touch point angst. 20% of touch points deliver 80% of the impact. In some categories, that is 50%. Nobody is going to notice you, stop doing 10 things, and focus on the touch points that really matter,” Rayner said.

Engaging with consumers is very different from reaching them, where media buys can work very well. A wide reach does not necessarily correlate with customers engaging with brands in those important moments.

Break down those silos

Referring to Rayner’s assertion that a minority of touch points provide a majority of the engagement, Smith said using fewer touch points means doing them excellently. If you are talking about engagement, you are also talking about content designed for that particular consumer.

“We can actually tailor our content, each of those in different moments, and that’s where we need to break down our silos,” Smith said.

“Silos that we [as businesses] construct are often self-imposed. Some of the things are organisational, but some are actually mental. We can look across different categories. Consumers clearly do not sit in silos. They don’t sit in silos and we should not either.”

Rayner said breaking down organisational silos, which have often been built up over decades of working, comes down to three principles:

  • Insights and analytics have a leading role in the organisation. They are the voice of the consumer;
  • Customer centricity is embraced by all within the organisation. The organisation can then be measured according to what is meaningful to consumers; and
  • Facilitate touch point consistency, where consumers that interact with an organisation’s touch points are spoken to in a familiar and consistent voice.

One such touch point, according to Smith, is e-commerce.

“One of our colleagues called it ‘e-commerce beyond commerce’. E-commerce has become a very important touch point for engaging consumers, and more than just transactions,” Smith said.

“Are you ready for the new e-commerce business models? Are you ready for the ones disrupting entire categories, not just retail?”

Multi-tasking touchpoints

Consumers are not necessarily using what is put in front of them in the intended manner, nor are they using touch points as intended.

Social media as a touch point is used for several purposes, from accessing branded content, to a source of information, to asking questions, to expressing an opinion. This is why a holistic view of what touch points do, and how they work in conjunction with one another, is important.

“Lots to think about, but it’s manageable,” Rayner said.

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