How to integrate physical touchpoints in your digital customer journey

Sophia Höfling
7 min readOct 27, 2018

A lot has been written about how to integrate digital touchpoints into a traditional, offline customer journey — e.g. how offline resellers can create a multichannel experience for their customers. In this article, I would like to approach this question from the opposite direction: How can B2B software companies turn their by nature mainly digital journey into a multichannel experience? I will try to answer this question by describing how we at NavVis have developed a customer journey with a great variety of human, tactile and digital touchpoints and what we have learned along the way.

Let’s start with the WHY: Why should a nicely automated digital journey be extended by physical touchpoints?

Digital touchpoints are great. They offer a high level of responsiveness, can be customized for different target groups and scaled at relatively low cost. A purely digital customer journey is trackable from start to finish which leads to a multitude of data to analyze and improve upon.

At NavVis — for the above-mentioned reasons — we have built an online portal which helps our partners and customers to manage their NavVis products, learn about our solutions and connect with our community. Content on the portal is customized to the specific customer type of the user. With our e-learning courses, we can train an unlimited amount of users in an interactive manner. And we can follow every step of the user to understand which material and information are useful and which not. Great!

Albeit all advantages of digital touchpoints, one shouldn’t forget a significant shortcoming: Digital (screen-based) touchpoints can address only two out of five human senses — the visual and the auditive sense. That means only 20–40% of our sensual perceptivity is activated and used by purely digital customer journeys. Yet, studies have shown that the human brain develops, learns and operates optimally in multi-sensory environments. Multi-sense customer journeys can deliver a more engaging and stimulating customer and brand experience than single- or double-sense journeys.

An easy way to extend your customer experience to address a third sense is to introduce tactile touchpoints. Tactile touchpoints can be everything from a hard-copy letter to a printed manual. In the digital age, they got a little out of fashion. Why printing a manual when I can provide an online documentation which can easily be kept up to date and has a great search function? Because tactile touchpoints are nowadays often considered a real craft by the customer and seen as a signal of honest customer care. And as with every trend, purposefully counteracting the mainstream can also be a means to stand-out. In a world of more and more screen-based interactions, well-designed tactile touchpoints are special. And their effectiveness had been proven long ago. Aristoteles attached a particular value to our sense of touch. He stated that man is more intelligent than other animals because of the accuracy of their tactile sense. And the consumer goods industry has greatly exploited this sense ever since. Just think about the recognizable surface of a Coca-Cola bottle or a MacBook.

So why not making use of those primeval human instincts in the software world as well? At NavVis, we have intentionally introduced 3 tactile touchpoints along the customer journey:

1) To kick-off our customer onboarding, we send out welcome boxes via mail. Our customers are caught by surprise with those boxes which basically welcome them in the NavVis community and explain them the next steps of their onboarding phase.

2) The second tactile touchpoint in our customer journey is our hard copy User Guide. In a training workshop, customers learn hands-on how to operate our hard- and software products. The User Guide is a printed workbook that explains features and methods in detail and is used throughout the workshop.

3) Last but not least we send out hand-signed postcards and little gadgets to customers who have had a particularly great experience with our products (e.g. successfully managed a large project with our products). Our objective is to extend and even further increase the wow effect the customer had.

NavVis Welcome Box
NavVis User Guide

All our tactile touchpoints are designed to convey a rich, high-quality brand image. The feedback we receive is extremely positive. It proofs that small and simple tactile elements have the power to turn your originally mainly digital customer journey into something special.

Obviously, another way to address multiple human senses is to integrate human touchpoints into your journey. The advantages and disadvantages of those touchpoints are fairly clear. The core advantage of human touchpoints is building lasting relationships. Since these are hard to measure short-term, software companies tend to undervalue those touchpoints. At NavVis, we do not only provide standardized, scalable e-learning material to onboard our customers but also hands-on personal training. Those training workshops are the core touchpoint to bond with the customer, to understand what is important for them and what they worry about. This human touchpoint builds the base for everything that is to come in the following journey.

Summed up, a well-designed multi-channel customer journey yields a positive and special customer experience. And through a certain level of redundancy across different touchpoints (e.g. providing an information through a blog post, an email and a call from the customer success manager all at the same time) you can assure that the information you aim to provide reaches every customer.

What’s the best mix of physical and digital touchpoints?

Convinced of the benefits of a multi-channel customer journey you might wonder about the best mix of different touchpoints. How many physical touchpoints should be inserted into your digital experience? From my point of view, there is no one-fits-all solution. Factors like the tech affinity and geographical region of your target group, your business model and your budget impact the decision. At NavVis, we found a way to get started and learn quickly: Build the MVP of your customer journey with mainly human touchpoints. A human touchpoint-based journey is like a paper prototype when building a product. It gives you the chance to get to know your customers and their pains first hand without spending money on designing touchpoints you won’t use or drastically change later on.

As a SaaS company, you might be tempted to digitize the whole journey right from the start. You integrate a support ticketing system into your software instead of offering a support hotline. You ask for feedback through a pop-up rather than giving a call. And you onboard your users through the software rather than offering a hands-on personal training. If we had followed this strategy at NavVis we had greatly missed out on several precious insights. We intentionally provided a purely human journey at the beginning. We gave partners a call to welcome them to our network. We did not provide any training material but scribbled on whiteboards during the training ad-hoc, based on the questions the participants posed. And we didn’t have an online portal but provided all the information the customer requested verbally or via email. This service MVP was easy to change and provided us with the qualitative feedback that one depends on at an early stage.

How can I turn a multichannel journey into a success?

From my experience there are 3 aspects that should be considered in order to turn your multi-channel journey into a success:

1. Build an interdisciplinary team: Different skills are required to design and operate a multi-channel journey. At NavVis, we have built up 3 different teams to develop and operate our journey: An operations team which is responsible for providing all human touchpoints. A Scrum team which develops concept and infrastructure of all digital touchpoints. And a team which develops service concepts and content for human and tactile touchpoints as well as content for digital touchpoints. Each team has its own mission, yet they closely align and cooperate.

2. Ensure consistency across the touchpoints: In order to guarantee a consistent brand image, it is important to ensure a certain level of consistency across the touchpoints. At NavVis, we cope with this in three ways: Through style guidelines, feedback loops across the different teams and a single responsible individual who oversees the entire journey.

3. Measure but don’t compare: A customer journey is a constant work in progress. Measuring customer satisfaction and the effectiveness of single touchpoints is crucial to improve and refine. Yet, different touchpoint types will yield different possibilities to measure and, hence, cannot be directly compared. It’s usually much harder to receive feedback on tactile touchpoints than on digital ones since it’s more effort for the customer. Feedback on human touchpoints is biased by the relationship between human beings. Yet, what is usually quite insightful is to introduce a metric to measure the overall experience along the journey. While the satisfaction with single touchpoints might be high the overall experience can be low because touchpoints are not well aligned and the customer does not feel well guided.

I hope you gained some helpful insights into how we at NavVis have developed a multi-channel customer experience for our high-tech B2B customers. For any questions or if you have own experiences to share, feel free to reach out — I am always happy to chat about customer experience.

Originally published at https://www.customersuccessmakers.com on October 27, 2018.

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Sophia Höfling

Entrepreneur & product leader writing about product & leadership. Building clean tech @ReiCat. Formerly CPO & co-founder @Saiga, HoP @Babbel & HoCX @NavVis.