Are you missing important brand touchpoints?

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The Missing French Fries: Brand opportunity!

Touchpoints are individual impressions that hold great power.

They are pivotal to your overall brand success because they drive both word of mouth and the ability to create real fans for your organisation.

One of the most important audits an organisation can undertake is a touchpoint analysis. Many businesses only think of the obvious touchpoints during the customer experience but many other moments enter the mind of the customer, influence their feelings and have an impact on their likelihood to be a fan of what you do.

Some may ask, “why don’t you just survey them?” First because many people say one thing and do another. Second because some potential customers may experience touchpoints that turn them off before they even get to you. In addition mystery shopping can also be a ‘loose’ version of what is good unless there is a true understanding of the brand and

We need to understand each and every touchpoint in your organisation that we can possibly think of, not to be perfect but to consistently seek to be better. Touchpoints should reinforce what your organisation stands for and provide a clutter free way for your customers to connect with your vision. Not all touchpoints are right there in front of your eyes. It’s often within those hard to find touchpoints that GOLD can be uncovered. But beware it might be so subtle that not even customers consciously know that it’s had an affect on them but it’s best for you to notice before a competitor does!

We’ll leave the science about the effects of the subconscious for another day and instead I’ll use my recent McDonalds journey as an example.

This series of touchpoints took place over approximately 6 days:
1. I see a TV advert making me notice a new Scorcher burger – interested in a good way but doesn’t compel me to go.
2. I hear a radio advert that reminds me of the Scorcher – gaining interest.
3. My friend mentions another burger joint at which I say “I want to try the Scorcher burger at Macca’s, I might go tonight (at 11pm).” – reminder by association.
4. As I get to the restaurant I remind myself that all those carbs at night will make me wake up feeling crappy – a touchpoint I remember from previous experience.
5. The next day I see my friend again who says “Did you get your Scorcher?” to which I replied “No i didn’t…I’ll make it this weekend before it’s off the menu” –  limited offer creates a sense of urgency.
6. That weekend I arrive at the drive thru with a large line up – a negative for fast food but I have a feeling this has improved in recent years.
7. I look for the menu board but it’s all the way up at the speaker box – I can’t decide my final order while I’m waiting with nothing else to do.
8. I make my way to the speaker box and anxiously look for the Scorcher on the menu feeling under pressure – the menu boards should be back while you have time to comfortably decide.
9. I ask for the meal deal with no ice in my Coke and the attendant says “No problem, please drive through to the first window” – good I feel directed.
10. The girl at the money area is very friendly and says “Thank you, that’s kind” when I put some change in Ronald McDonald house collection box – her thanks made me feel good.
11. I arrive at the last window to collect my food which is ready quickly – good thing.
12. The attendant passed the drink to me, then my bag of food and says “Have a nice day” without looking at me – opportunity here for a more sincere last human interaction.
13. I drive to work and eat fries along the way – they are fresh and perfectly salted.
14. I arrive to the car park and decide to eat my burger there – it was certainly spicy, the Scorcher lives up to it’s name.
15. I finish the burger and reach in to bottom of bag for left over chips but there weren’t any! Damn they packed it properly! – it left me feeling disappointed.
16. I left my car, saw my friend again and said “Got my Scorcher and for the first time in a long time there were no fries in the bottom of my bag.” – the negativity of missing fries overshadowed the good burger.
17. My friend said “Seriously? You look for the extra french fries too?” – now I knew I wasn’t alone!

As you can see many touchpoints are in your control while others happen as a result of seemingly disconnected actions. You can’t control them all but you can influence them by taking the time to understand what they are. If things happen often enough customers will become conditioned to expect things even you didn’t know existed. Being able to deliver these could set you apart from your competitors.

A touchpoint analysis should usually be undertaken by a couple of people from within the organisation (to allow for different perspectives) or an experienced external agency that intimately understands what the brand stands for. The people conducting this should know the motivators of each target market so they can see if each touchpoint contributes to driving further trust in the brand.

Now I come back to the importance of Touchpoint 15 – The missing french fries. After chatting with some friends I found out that there were indeed more people that ate their meal in that exact order and loved the left over french fries. As an ‘ocassional’ customer I’m used to it and conditioned to expect it as a habit, but the absence of the extra french fries left me feeling like my meal wasn’t complete. I finished on the burger…I’m meant to finish on three semi-warm fries from the bottom of the bag.

Should McDonalds now train every staff member to have a twitch when putting the fries in the bag? That might look a bit insincere but if they did it without telling me, I’d probably love their consistency!
What McDonalds shouldn’t do is train staff to stack the bag perfectly – that would be tragic!

As a touchpoint, the extra french fries would rarely demand a second thought but it’s one that may add much more weight to the experience than people realise.
It also infers that McDonalds customers are likely to look in their bag after eating. Taking this in to account it’s a great opportunity for McDonalds to show a random act of kindness on just one day of the year, and put a surprise bonus in everyone’s bag… Now that would get people talking!

It’s the understanding of unexpected moments that saw Play-Doh change from a wallpaper cleaner to a child’s toy.
The understanding of customer behaviour that had Kleenex change the intended use of tissues from make up removers to things you blow your nose in.

In 2012 make it the year to really think about every impression you leave on your target audience. The idea here is not to reach the elusive level of perfection or look for a different way to use your product, but  get to know what drives your customer and what opportunities you might come up with to make them feel great when being touched by your brand.

Simple steps:
1. Identify your target audiences
2. Put several customer journeys under a microscope from their perspective and see it from their lifestyle.
3. Influence as many touchpoints as possible to make sure they reinforce positive emotion and drive credibility and trust in what you stand for.
4. Try to identify the missing french fry in your business. It could be a crisp, golden french fry. Yum!