Customer Touch Points and the Exchange of Value

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By David Loshin

I would like to suggest that every customer interaction involves a potential exchange of value between the organization and the customer. The canonical example is the decision to buy a product. In this scenario, the customer exchanges money (which has value) for the purchased item (which also has value). And we can look at some other scenarios to consider the exchange of value:

  • Customer complaint, in which a customer engages the customer support team to complain about the product or service. The customer is looking to trade feedback about the product (which has value for the company) for support for the product (which, of course is valuable for the customer).
  • Prospect query, in which a prospective customer engages a salesperson for information about the product. The customer is seeking information or insight (which has value in terms of gaining knowledge about the product and the company), while the salesperson is provided with qualifying information about the prospect (which is valuable as part of the salesperson’s engagement process).
  • Customer payment, in which the customer provides money (which of course has value to the company) in return for settlement of the purchasing agreement (which is somewhat valuable to the customer).

Note that in each of these cases there is an exchange of value – both parties get something out of the transaction. In some cases the exchange is even, such as paying for the product. In some cases the value on party receives is greater than what the other party receives. In other cases the parity (or disparity) between value is not clear. Those areas of potential confusion represent opportunities – either look for ways to eliminate the disparity in exchange of value, or seek to improve different aspects of the value exchange.

A good example is the last scenario we looked at: customer payment. The immediate perception is that the value of receiving a payment is much greater for the company than giving it is for the customer. This bears further review – perhaps the value is greater to the company the earlier the payment is made, and therefore an incentive might be given to a customer who pays ahead of schedule. And in fact it is not uncommon for agreements to include a discount for early payments.

The upshot is that reviewing business processes to identify the customer touch points and evaluating the exchange of value will expose opportunities for improvement that can be evaluated based on the context of the process and the identity of the parties involved.