Danila Nagornov

Danila Nagornov

Touchpoints and Channels in Customer Journey Mapping

Touchpoints and channels are crucial elements of any customer journey, but they tend to get mixed up when it comes to actual mapping. Let’s dive into these two definitions, find the difference between them and settle this issue once and for all.

Touchpoints

Let’s first take a look at touchpoints. A touchpoint is a moment in time when an interaction happens between a customer and your product, service, or business in general. This includes situations that happen on the website, through marketing, personal interactions or a phone call. If customers find out something about the product, sign up for a newsletter, buy something or give feedback, they do this by "touching" your business. And that's why they're called touchpoints. 🙂

Our main goal when mapping a customer journey is to find and map out all the possible touchpoints, as the touchpoint with the lowest experience defines the overall level of customer satisfaction at the end of the journey.

Here are a few examples of touchpoints:

  • Product demo
  • Help & support
  • Checkout form
  • Booking a table
  • Giving feedback about one's experience
  • Collecting information about a service
  • Warranty return
  • Signing up at an online service

Channels

Unlike touchpoints, channels are a medium of communication between a company and its customers. It is the environment where touchpoints occur. It can be a corporate website or the phone the customer uses when calling the customer support. Some channels are interactive, that is they can give your customer a response, e.g., live chat, phone calls, social network. While others are not, e.g., billboard, flyers. Channels can be both offline (brick and mortar store, an ad at an airport) and digital (a website or a mobile app).

channels-vs-touchpoints

A few examples of channels:

  • Skype call
  • Forums
  • Target ad
  • Call center
  • Face2Face communication
  • Mobile app
  • Social networks
  • Live Chat
  • Talking to friends

The difference between touchpoints and channels

In essence, you can think of the difference between channels and touchpoints in the following way. A touchpoint happens when a customer has a certain need, e.g., register on a web site, find a product, make a payment, etc. And they're looking for ways to satisfy this need. Whereas a channel is a means provided by a company to meet this customer need.

And while one and the same touchpoint might happen across different channels, some channels support only a certain set of touchpoints.

For instance, a customer can pay for the order (touchpoint) through the website, via bank payment or by handing cash to the delivery man. At the same time, customers can use their smartphone to access the website to pay for the chosen item, order delivery, and give a phone call to the support team.

Note: not every channel can provide good support for a certain touchpoint (e.g., your customers cannot make a phone call to you via their computer). If you don't have enough resources to support all of your channels, it's better to focus on the ones you can support in order to keep customer experience consistent across all the stages. So keep that in mind when (re)designing your customer journey.

Visualizing touchpoints and channels in UXPressia

Now when it comes to actually placing channels and touchpoints on a customer journey map, you can do it in a few ways by using our Customer Journey Mapping tool.

First off, there is a Processes and Channels section with over 40 channels to choose from.

channels-section-in-uxpressia

There you have separate sections both for touchpoints and channels, where you can map them out by uploading images or simply describing them in plain text.

Here is what your channels and touchpoints can look like at the end:

touchpoints-and-channels-in-uxpressia

By the way, you can also visualize the channels that your persona uses right in the persona online tool. Here is what it will look like:

channels-in-persona

And that’s all there is to it. Hopefully, these two key concepts of customer journey mapping are a little clearer to you now and you will easily tell them apart when creating your CJMs.

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