Brand-Customer Touch Points


By

Mujib-ur Rahman
Sr. Lecturer
Faculty of Management Studies
B.S. Anangpuria Institute of Technology & Management
Faridabad
 


It is not only advertising, Public Relation or Publicity through which a brand or an organization communicates with its target customers. Actually, it is every thing, every person and every message that touches a customer communicates something positive or negative about the brand and ultimately the organization. The appearance and behaviour of service employees, the design of a product as well as the package, tone of voice of the phone or attitude of customer care employees etc communicates many things about the personality and friendliness of the organization. These situations in which a customer comes in contact with a brand or company directly or indirectly is termed  Brand-Customer Touch Points.

Brand-Customer Touch Point is defined as "any situation in which a customer comes in contact with a brand or company."

So when everything that touches a customer communicates, the challenge arises how to manage various touch-points in order to achieve marketing objectives cost-effectively. The following points explains the major categories of Brand-Customer Touch Points and their characteristics.:

Categories of Brand-Customer Touch Points:

* Company-created touch points.
* Intrinsic touch points.
* Unexpected touch points.
* Customer-Initiated touch points.

1) COMPANY-CREATED TOUCH POINTS

Company-created touch points are planned MC messages, such as ads, news releases, brochures, package, and store decoration.

One of the advantages of company-Created touch points is that, for the most part, they can be highly controlled. The other three touch points-intrinsic, unexpected, and customer-initiated-cannot be controlled, but marketing communicators can do many things to influence them.

2) INTRINSIC TOUCH POINTS

Intrinsic touch points, which are interactions with a brand required during the process of buying or using that brand. These contacts are inherent to the buying or using of a brand, these touch points are always sending messages, especially to current customers.

 Most intrinsic touch points are connected with customer service. They send powerful messages because they are generally personal and occur in real time.

 How quickly does a company reply to customer inquires and complaints? A response seems more positive, regardless of its content. A timely response "says" that the company is concerned and has made the customer's problem a top priority.

 In the case of packaged goods, the package itself is an intrinsic touch point. How easy it is to open, to reseal, and to dispose of all send messages about the brand. Intrinsic touch point not only sends messages, but often provides the opportunity to deliver company-created messages.

3) UNEXPECTED TOUCH POINTS

Unexpected touch points are unanticipated references to a brand that are beyond the control of the company. They are either positive of negative. Personal communication between customers or other stake-holders about a brand, particularly when it is from a dissatisfied customer.

Other stakeholders investors and analysts, employees, suppliers, distributors, and government officials- can also be sources of unexpected messages. Unexpected positive word-of-mouth messages from any of these sources can be powerful testimony on behalf of the brand.

The media also produce unexpected touch points by writing about a brand or company. Customers and prospects can be the source of brand messages in the same way as a company and its MC agencies. The Major difference is that the source is now the customer or stakeholder, rather than the brand, which becomes the receiver.. Likewise, the messages and the channels of communication are different.

4) CUSTOMER-INITIATED TOUCH POINTS

Customer-Initiated touch points are situations that occur when a customer or prospect contacts a company. The model of Customer-initiated brand communication shown below shows that customers and prospects can be the source of brand messages in the same way as a company. The major difference is that the source is now the customer or stakeholder, rather than the brand, which becomes receiver in this case. Likewise, the messages and communication channels are different.


Model of Customer-initiated Brand Communication

Managing the response to customer-initiated touch points is a critical part of Integrated Marketing Communication because these contacts occur primarily with current customers and thus significantly impact customer retention. Most customer-initiated touch points involve complaints or inquire about product usage.

The new communication technologies make it easier for customers to contact a company. At the same time, to show they are customer focused, more and more companies are inviting customers and prospects to contact them by advertising their toll-free numbers and e-mail and website addresses n packages and in many of their other MC messages.

Conclusion: The success of  of a business organization lies in the effective management of all the Brand-Customer Touch Points . For maintaining and enhancing an organisation's  sales performance as well as Image & Reputation, it must have a proper understanding  of all the points of contacts and their impact on business performance.
 


Mujib-ur Rahman
Sr. Lecturer
Faculty of Management Studies
B.S. Anangpuria Institute of Technology & Management
Faridabad
 

Source: E-mail December 6, 2007

          

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