Know Your Touchpoints

Oct 10, 2005

Anyone who knows me or who has read my writings on management for architects and engineers over the years knows that I absolutely HATE buzzwords. They automatically raise the suspicions of the smart design, management, technical, and scientific staffers who have been around a while and seen these management catch phrases come and go. That said, I stumbled across an idea recently in the course of teaching my entrepreneurship classes here at the University of Arkansas that I think holds a lot of merit. When talking about how to make a firm that is working in a mature industry more competitive (and we in the A/E and environmental consulting business ARE in a MATURE industry), it can be helpful to examine all of the client “touchpoints” along the way from their first inquiry or contact with the client all the way through to the final delivery of the service. You can then look at how your firm compares with other firms that provide the same services at each of these touchpoints and make sure your offering is better than the other providers. If you do this, you will be more competitive, and ultimately, more successful. I think it’s a fantastic idea that any firm can use. If you break down the entire sales and service delivery process from start to finish you will probably have 20 or 30 key touchpoints. Consider the following examples: Touchpoint #1: Potential hospital client does a Google search for “health care architects outpatient clinics Arizona.” If you are a health care firm with expertise in outpatient clinics, you better be darn sure your firm’s name pops up. If not the first firm, you ought to be on the first page of entries. If you go through this process and find that you cannot find your firm, you better fix this problem. Touchpoint #2: Potential client does a web search or hears about your firm from a source and clicks onto your web site. If they cannot immediately ascertain that you do health care work and have expertise in outpatient clinics and have done work in Arizona, you have a problem. If your site is set up based on geography, and all your offices appear to be in New Mexico and California, they may not go any further. Fix this problem. Or, if your site has animation, that means it won’t work on every computer; fix the problem. Touchpoint #3: Potential client e-mails the firm from the “contact us for more information” button on the web site. If the form doesn’t work when they hit “send,” you have a problem. If the inquiry is not answered for seven days after it is sent, you have a problem. Fix these problems so they don’t occur and so the client’s inquiry is responded to immediately. Touchpoint #4: Client calls the 800 number to get more information from a live body. What they encounter is a cryptic autoattendant menu asking them for a name or extension number and they have neither. They hit “0” hoping to speak to a live body and end up in “general system voicemail.” If they leave a message there, it isn’t returned or is returned four days later. Fix these problems. I could go on and on. Take every aspect of the project and service delivery and look at what happens. Can clients reach your people every time? What does a client see when they come to your office? Is the product presented properly? Define each and every touchpoint and make sure the way you do it is better than anyone else. No matter how crowded the field of competitors, you cannot help but be more successful! Originally published 10/10/2005

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.