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How Channels,Devices,and Touchpoints Impact the Customer Journey

by Kim Flahertyon December 4,2016

Summary:Customer journeys are collections of touchpoints between users and organizations.A touchpoint is defined by a combination of channel,device,and user task.

In recent years,as new devices such as smartphones,smartwatches and tablets have entered the market,new interaction types between customers and organizations have also emerged.People are no longer constrained to the telephone,mail,or the web;nowadays,they can engage with an organization in many other ways,including:

  • Mobile web
  • Mobile or tablet applications
  • Smartwatch apps
  • Live chat
  • Kiosks
  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Social-networking pages

For this reason,customer journeysare much more dynamic and interconnected than ever before.Today's organizations must go beyond the business-as-usual mindset,in order to provide strategic solutions that meet the needs of their connected customers.

To create an effectiveomnichannel 万博官网manbetx下载UXstrategy,companies must first understand the foundational concepts of omnichannel 万博官网manbetx下载UX.With this knowledge,organizations will be well equipped to understand their own customer-engagement ecosystem and how people use channels and devices to complete tasks.These concepts can inform organizations to manbetx官方网站手机版design holistic omnichannel experiences and help them avoid overfocusing on devices at the expense of channels.In this article we explain thebasic components that make up the omnichannel ecosystem(channels,devices,and touchpoints) and how they impact the customer journey.

Interaction Channels

Definition: Achannelis the medium of interaction between a customer and an organization.There are various types of interaction channels:

  • Bidirectional channelssupport instant two-way interactions between customers and the organization.They include:
    • Traditional one-on-one or physical channelssuch as talking to a representative in-person or by telephone,or browsing in a physical store
    • Digital channelssuch as websites,mobile and tablet apps,text messaging,social media,live chat,and email.Digital channels are accessed through computing devices such as smartphones,computers,tablets,smartwatches,or smart thermostats.
  • Unidirectional channelsare not immediately interactive;they usually support one-way communication from customers to organizations or vice versa.Examples include postal mail,print and TV advertisements,and packaging.(Techniques like QR codes can serve as "semi-live hyperlinks" that put a smidgen of reverse directionality into otherwise unidirectional channels.)

Every organization will have its own set of relevant channels that make up its unique omnichannel ecosystem.Some organizations like banks and retail stores will rely heavily on physical locations,while internet-based companies may not have these physical channels at all,but support a multitude of digital channels to do business with customers.Some organizations may even create their own unique channels to support their business.For example,Amazon's dash buttons are Wi-Fi connected physical devices that allow users to reorder a product (e.g.,detergent) from Amazon with one press.(As long as such buttons don't contain a display to confirm the order,they are also one of the rare examples of a unidirectional channel where the one-way communication is in the direction from the customer to the company.)

Channels are the means of interaction between a customer and an organization.Organizations will support channels relevant to their business and their relationships with customers.

Each Device Supports Certain Channels

One common misconception is that computing devices such as smartphones,smartwatches,and tablets are interaction channels themselves.However,devices are not channels.Devices simply provide the means to access channels (usually digital channels,but there may be exceptions,for example smart phones allow us to call an organization over the phone).Each device affords different channels.

Some channels are device specific (e.g.,mobile website,mobile app,smartwatch app),whereas other channels exist acrossmultiple devices(e.g.,live chat,email).Each channel's experience can,and sometimes should,differ depending on the device accessing it.For example,an email would bepresented differently on a smartwatchthan on a computer.

Devices allow access to different channels to interact with an organization.

Touchpoints Are Interaction Instances

During a customer journey,a user may interact with an organization several times using several different channels.Each of these interaction instances represents a touchpoint between the customer and the organization.

Definition: Atouchpointrepresents a specific interaction between a customer and an organization.It includes the device being used,the channel used for the interaction,and the specific task being completed.

A customer journey is made up by a series of touchpoints,with each touchpoint defining the details of the specific interaction.

A customer journey is a series of touchpoints that capture the context of each interaction between the company and the customer.


Take a look at your own omnichannel ecosystem.What channels do you support?Across which devices?Ask yourself if there are important gaps to be filled in your channel solutions.Study the touchpoints of common customer journeys to understand the context of each interaction and how customers are using your current solutions to complete tasks.Examining your omnichannel ecosystem in this way can propel you toward fully understanding your channels and how customers are using them in order to make strategic improvements to the customer experience.

We discuss how to research the customer journey and improve the five components of the omnichannel user experience in our full-day courseOmnichannel Journeys and Customer Experience.