How To Establish Points Of Contact Between Your Organization And Your Customers
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How To Establish Points Of Contact Between Your Organization And Your Customers

In my book, Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty, I explain how to differentiate your brand by designing and delivering extraordinary customer experiences that instantly differentiate your company. This is achieved by understanding what I call "TouchPoints," that is, points of contact between your organization and your customers. These TouchPoints are divided into three categories: Product TouchPoints, Systems TouchPoints, and Human TouchPoints. I find most businesses put too much focus on one type of TouchPoint, which causes the customer experience to be "unbalanced" and therefore inconsistent.

Once you know how to create exceptional Product, Systems, and Human TouchPoints, next comes the most challenging and most fun part of the process... checking the alignment of all of these TouchPoints with your overpromise.

Let's first look at alignment done right. Minute Clinic is a chain of urgent care clinics now owned by CVS Pharmacies. Minute Clinic's overpromise is "You're Sick. We're Quick." Let's look at how their exceptionally tight alignment of their TouchPoints consistently and powerfully overdelivers on their overpromise.

Product TouchPoints

Minute Clinic doesn't require appointments, so when you're sick you can get in quickly. Minute Clinic has extended hours so you can get in more quickly than waiting for your doctor's regular office hours. Because they treat a limited list of ailments, treatment takes 15 minutes or less. That all adds up to quick treatment when you are sick.

A Quick Decision: Prices range from $30-$110 and they accept most insurance, which means that the decision to go to the Minute Clinic first can be a quick one. If Minute Clinic can't help you, they will make a quick referral to the closest facility that can treat you. There is also no charge for their services to determine that your needs are beyond their scope of care... once again making the decision to choose Minute Clinic quick and easy. Minute Clinic also guarantees their diagnosis. If you are not cured within the specified time, the second visit and your medicine are free!

Systems TouchPoints

Minute Clinic has more than 400 locations in 27 states. That means that for the states they serve, the drive to a Minute Clinic is quick. Co-location with the pharmacy means that getting the medicine you need is quick as well. Minute Clinic zaps the prescription right to their pharmacy with your name, address, phone number, doctor, insurance, credit card, and other information already completed so the pharmacist just has to fill the prescription and you can get it into your system quickly.

The coolest parts of the Minute Clinic system are the sign in kiosk and the diagnostics software, both designed for speed. When you enter the Minute Clinic you see a kiosk that invites you to sign in and enter all of your pertinent information. But if you are a returning customer, the kiosk will recognize you within a few keystrokes and welcome you back by letting you know that it already has all of your information. You just need to confirm that it is correct with one keystroke. Within seconds, the exam room door opens and you are invited in for diagnosis.

The diagnostic software is decision tree software that prompts your exam with a series of basic questions. Your answers to those questions prompt another series of questions. Your answers to those questions drive yet another round of questions. Within three to four rounds of questions (and confirming tests and checks by your examiner), you have been correctly diagnosed. I have used Minute Clinic on numerous occasions and I am consistently astounded by how accurate and quick their diagnoses are. They have accurately diagnosed my kids on several occasions where I thought there was nothing wrong beyond the common cold. On one occasion they correctly diagnosed pneumonia when my son had virtually no symptoms. Note that speed alone would not be a benefit if the diagnosis was not accurate. The software's ability to accurately diagnose so quickly is really at the heart of the Minute Clinic business model.

Human TouchPoints

Minute Clinic uses nurse practitioners rather than doctors to staff their clinics. This contributes to their ability to be quick in several ways. First, it keeps costs low, which as we have seen, contributes to quick decisions. Second, it allows for more locations (because costs are low, volumes can be lower and still profitable). Third, it contributes to the ability to offer extended hours because they can cover more hours for less cost than they could with doctors. Fourth, insurance companies encourage and incentivize the use of nurse practitioners by covering their costs more comprehensively. Fifth, nurse practitioners are more likely to follow protocols and align their advice with the software diagnosis than doctors who are trained to think more independently and more broadly about potential issues. That, in turn, gives predictability to malpractice insurance underwriters who have to assess the risk of insuring Minute Clinic, which of course brings costs down.

What I hope you can see from this example is that every TouchPoint reinforces and amplifies quickness! Minute Clinic, from the company name to the overpromise to the integration with the pharmacy, is all about being quick! Every TouchPoint enables and accelerates the speed at which they can accurately diagnose and treat anyone of the ailments they cover. It is this tight, self-reinforcing alignment of TouchPoints that makes Minute Clinic work.

Are Your TouchPoints Aligned?

Are your TouchPoints aligned to reinforce and amplify your overpromise? If not, ask yourself what you can do to more tightly align them. Your clients should be able to know what your overpromise is just by encountering a single TouchPoint. The magic of the overpromise and overdeliver methodology is in the alignment. Stop doing anything that is out of alignment and put more energy into getting every product, service, activity, and team member precisely aligned and your clients will quickly see the difference start driving your brand using the world's most powerful marketing tool… word of mouth.

Rick Barrera is a branding expert and customer service speaker, as well as the author of the bestselling book: Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty. Used with permission from Rick Barrera:

Published: July 27th, 2011

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