Build a Super-brand by Managing Touch Points
Remember Trump Mortgage? Not many people do…it was a disaster that came and went in less than 2 years. But, whether you like him or hate him, Donald Trump has done a great job of managing his brand, even through failures…at each and every touch point. He has certainly identified his target audience, just like any brand does, and doesn’t worry about the rest. “Trump has fed us so much Trump that we’ve come to accept what he stands for—luxury, success, fearlessness—even if we don’t quite cotton to the man.” Says Gregg Lipman of marketing consultancy CBX: “…Trump has effectively created a brand that stands for something more than himself.” Whether you happened to think that brand is good or bad really doesn’t matter…it works for him.
Have you considered how many ways your brand touches your audience? If you only knew, you might find it shocking as most brands have little idea. These touch points should be identified, prioritized and assessed individually to determine how well each is aligned with your expectations and the promise of your brand.
Let’s start with a definition. Brand touch points are simply all of the different ways that your brand interacts with, and makes an impression on, customers, employees and other stakeholders. For example, your receptionist is an obvious primary touch point.
In any business, it’s important that your receptionist presents in a positive, proactive and knowledgeable manner. The way the receptionist answers the phone, communicates with a prospect and directs their call to the right person is critical. That prospect will form an immediate good or bad first impression about your company and the quality of service they can expect.
You’re a potential borrower calling to speak with someone about obtaining financing for a home. Instead of speaking to a live person, you land up listening through a list of options, you don’t hear the option you want immediately, so you hit “zero” to speak with a receptionist. Worst case scenario is it defaults back to the beginning of the list of options. Best case scenario, after you hit “zero” you get to speak to the receptionist, but then they put you on hold for a while and let you wonder why it takes so long to talk to someone…or they’re abrupt, unfriendly and they slam you straight into the voicemail of a person that doesn’t even identify who they are, what they’re position is and therefore leaves you guessing as to whether you landed up in the right place.
In this scenario, the initial, primary touch point has failed miserably. But hold on, is it necessarily the fault of the receptionist? Maybe they were never properly trained. Maybe they were never integrated properly into the culture of the organization so they understand expectations. Maybe they’re working with an outdated phone system. Maybe they’re performing too many additional job functions that shouldn’t be in their court to begin with and reception duties are a distraction instead of their primary function. My point is this…the receptionist may be a primary, direct point of customer contact, but the indirect point of customer contact is his/her manager, the managers’ manager and even the technology which could have been the reason why the customer was put off.
Here are 4 steps to building a super-brand by managing touch points:
1) Determine all customer touch points. Every step in your business process has a set of touch points that need to be acknowledged when your customer comes in contact with your brand. The goal is to make sure all touch points are aligned with your brand promise. The way to identify them is to simply walk through each step of your business process and determine where these touch points occur. For example, how do you generate demand for your loan products, technology or service? Once the demand is generated, how do you connect with them and guide them towards the decision of doing business with you? What about after the sale is made and the transaction closed?
This comprehensive “walk-through” allows you to map out each point of contact. Here are four touch point categories you should focus on…
- Pre-purchase: these include all touch points you as a brand leverage that influence a prospect to consider working with your company. Typical brand touch points here would be advertising, direct mail, website, social media.
- Purchase: these include all touch points that drive a prospect from considering your brand to making the actual decision to do business with you. Some purchase touch points include sales people/loan originators, brick and mortar presence, contact by anyone else at your company that assists the sales process.
- Post-purchase: these are all of the touch points leveraged after the sale that reinforce the purchase decision. Typical ones include contact with customer service representatives, customer satisfaction surveys, statements, newsletters, etc.
- Influencing: these are any touch points that indirectly leave an impression on customers and can potentially drive business to or away from your brand. These touch points encircle the other three categories of touch points. Typical influencing touch points include sponsoring of events, referrals, company reviews, current and past customers, community involvement.
2) Decide which touch points have the highest impact. All touch points are not created equal. Some are high-impact while others are considered low-impact. For example, one of many high-impact touch points occurs when a loan officer, for example, makes an initial contact with someone from whom they would like to obtain referrals. Another one is when a prospect lands on your website. Lower-impact touch points would be a statement received in the mail or a coffee cup with the name of your company on it. What’s important is that they are all recognized so they can be assessed for importance on an individual basis and then managed appropriately. Don’t forget about the less obvious touch points as pointed out in the receptionist example above.
3) Develop the experience for your customers. Once you’ve accomplished steps 1 and 2, the next step is to develop the experience with your brand that’s optimal for your customers, vendors, stakeholders…anyone that comes in contact with your brand.
Determine how you wish to express/communicate/convey your brand at each and every touch point and then assess how well each touch point meets the promise of your brand. For example, how can you reinforce “a consultative approach,” if that’s your brand promise, in both your marketing campaigns and through your sales people or mortgage loan originators? How about through your receptionist (in asking the right questions to direct a call to the right department) as well as through your website? Does each touch point have the tools to be able to deliver “a consultative approach?”
4) Align your company and all of its touch points so that you can consistently deliver the optimal experience. Employing a holistic approach to delivering the optimal experience is essential to your success. So, you’ll need to identify the people and processes that drive each of the touch points you’ve identified, inclusive of the indirect touch points which requires you to think and look beyond the obvious. As in my example with the receptionist, the receptionist is the obvious touch point whereas the not-so-obvious would be the manager or the technology the receptionist uses. By looking beyond the obvious you can see how important the indirect items are to fulfilling your brand promise.
Now, determine which activities are not in alignment with the customer experience you’re striving for and then determine what needs to happen in order to bring everything into alignment with your brand promise. Set timelines and appoint the right people to drive the necessary changes.
By going through this process, you will be far ahead of many companies in the mortgage industry, consumer-facing or business-facing, who have never stopped to consider how many ways their brands really touch their audience(s). This is a fun, enlightening process guaranteed!