Touchpoints Vs customer journeys

Why great touchpoints don’t guarantee good customer journeys.

Can you see the woods for the trees?
Scrutinising each individual step in a journey won’t help you see the big picture.

Most organisations focus on measuring and improving individual touchpoints; think about how we might fine-tune a new lead generation campaign, redesign an online check out process or test changes to a telephone service interaction.  CX teams often debate the performance of each individual interaction.

However customers think very differently.   They think of end goals and what it will take, across the entire end-to-end journey to achieve their desired aim.  This disconnect can seriously harm a company’s efforts to increase satisfaction and revenue.

Let me give you an example to illustrate what I mean:

A Housing Association Client of ours conducted a satisfaction survey after each repair visit and were delighted that consistently less than 12% of tenants were dissatisfied with any one interaction.

However when customers were asked in a separate survey about the way the Association dealt with repairs and maintenance overall, the level of dissatisfaction was three times higher at 29%.

Perhaps not surprisingly the repairs and maintenance team chose to focus on the individual repair results and developed a range of theories about why the overall repair satisfaction score was ‘wrong’.

However the truth was that whilst each individual trade was meeting their SLAs, were friendly, showed their ID, wiped their feet and so on, collectively the trades made too many separate trips and took too long to get a multi-faceted job finished to the customer’s satisfaction.

The overall experience is more important to the customer than individual interactions along the way.  That is why customers will, for example, tolerate a slower response time or an extra step if it leads to a better outcome.

When thinking about end-to-end customer journeys there are many factors to consider, here are four that should not be overlooked:

  • Accumulation
  • Moments of truth
  • Beginnings and endings
  • And emotions


Effort and dissatisfaction do not average out, they accumulate through an experience.  So, whilst individual interactions may be good, in conjunction they can deliver a poor end-to-end experience.

For many categories the customer journey is the just the stuff that gets in the way of what customers want.

journey vs touchpoints

Moments of truth

Of course not all touch points are the same, some are more important than others, usually called Moments of Truth.  Getting these moments right is critical as they have a disproportionate weight on how people will judge an end-to-end experience.

Beginings and endings

As Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winning psychologist points out in his Ted talk ‘The riddle of experience vs. memory’ our perception of events is dominated by first impressions and by endings.  The first and the last step in a journey as well as the first and last few seconds of an individual interaction.

People will think more kindly of a poor interaction if it starts and ends well.


It is easy to think that touchpoints are all about effort and utility, and indeed these are important – but they are hygiene factors.  Of course most companies do not deliver these hygiene factors well and end-to-end journeys are rarely easy enough, however we are emotional beings and it is feelings that most influence a customer’s memory of an experience.  In our work we have seen that customers’ emotional engagement with an interaction accounts for between 50% and 70% of how they rate it.  So for a private hospital the way people rated their treatment was:

How staff made me feel55%
The outcome of the treatment20%
The hospital environment10%
The speed and convenience of the appointment7%

In other words how staff treated customers had a bigger impact on their perceptions of their treatment than the outcome (how quickly/if they got better).  So when designing customer journeys you need to think about more than efficiency and speed, think also about empathy.  It is important for customers to feel that you understand and care about their needs and opinions.

Of course Customer Journey Mapping is the best way to understand customers’ end-to-end experiences.  We are specialists in this area and have written extensively about it.  See our Guide to Customer Journey Mapping and our worksheet on stakeholder engagement.

When looking at your customers’ journeys by all means capture and review KPIs for each touchpoint but focus on the end-to-end KPIs and making it easier and more emotionally rewarding for customers to achieve their end goal.