Many service providers are taking advantage of Touchpoints, a communications channel that service providers use to communicate with users to enhance their experiences. But many are not.
Touchpoints are used for influencing users’ experiences and gathering feedback. They are also used:
♦ To shape user preconceptions
♦ To redirect users in the middle of a journey if needed
♦ To gain user perceptions during a service journey
♦ To continue user relationships long after the service expires.
When designing a Touchpoint, service designers can use the table below to understand how Touchpoints come together.
The table is divided into “Considerations for Delivering Touchpoints”; “Place,” “Process,” and “Technology” (how and where Touchpoints occur in a service); and ways of communicating to users.
- Interactions: Defined as a real or perceived connection to the user, connections are two-way and can occur in-person, on the phone, or virtually. For example, State Farm customers used to start the claim filing process through an automated phone system, a virtual connection. But State Farm replaced the automation with live representatives, in-person because they found users felt more comfortable with this mode—Filing claims is a stressful time for most claimants!
- Place: Providers can shape the environment for Touchpoints, including how they are delivered and how they appear visually, such as where pop-ups or signage occurs during a service experience.
- Process and Technology: Touchpoints exist along a user’s service journey at naturally occurring junctures—where users come into direct contact with the service operation. The Touchpoint typically intervenes to propel a user’s service experience forward. These Touchpoints are often automated, triggered by a user during their journey.
- Physical: A physical Touchpoint is anything a user comes into physical contact with during the experience, such as a retail storefront. Physical Touchpoints help break down barriers to user-service engagement. Once a customer is in a store, for instance, it is more difficult for them to back out of a service.
- Personal Contact: Service experiences are greatly impacted by in-person contact. Take airline travel, for instance, where so much can go wrong. An airline representative might ease some of the stress of, say, a canceled flight, with help rerouting and a smile.
- Packaging: Product packaging is a Touchpoint. While many use packaging for branding, or to stay top-of-mind, it can also convey value. Think of the white cardboard packaging from Apple or packaged items from Disney that communicate your experience.
- Social Media: Some services are intertwined with social media, as in Venmo, with chat features that are capable of sharing intimacy and immediacy. Some online help chat features lend support in the place of human touch, and others are used to break down barriers by conveying trust.
- Atmospheric: Atmospheric Touchpoints can activate the user’s senses. The term “atmospheric” refers to the setting for an experience. As an example, a downtown Washington, D.C. bar changes its theme every three months, along with the drink menu and décor—and there’s always a line to get in! Through layout and design, a well-executed atmosphere as a Touchpoint can drive interest, appeal, and word of mouth.
Hopefully, these ideas will prompt you to use touchpoints at every turn and help you come up with ideas of your own.
Excerpt from The Journeyman, Service Design Series of Learning Vol. II. For more information on The Journeyman and other online courses and handbooks visit: www.internationalservicedesigninstitute.com.