Interview with Christoph Spengler, Accelerom Customer journeys and key touchpoints – why less is often more

Understanding customers and meeting them emotionally and empathically is a great art. Especially with the multitude of touchpoints that have been added by the digitalisation push in the last two years. Christoph Spengler, Accelerom, sheds light on this and provides recommendations on how to deal with touchpoints along the customer journey.

Interview with Christoph Spengler, Accelerom

Customer journeys and key touchpoints – why less is often more

Understanding customers and meeting them emotionally and empathically is a great art, especially with the multitude of touchpoints that have been added by the digitalisation push of the last two years. Christoph Spengler, Accelerom, sheds light on this and provides recommendations on how to deal with touchpoints along the customer journey.


Your WoM web seminar on May 16 is entitled "How to validate customer journeys and identify key touchpoints". What has happened in the customer journey arena over the past two years?

Christoph Spengler: Without any doubt, the last two years have been heavily influenced by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily life changed in one fell swoop – think, for example, of the ever-stricter curfew restrictions, and the obligation to work from home. The pandemic has driven digitalization forward: we keep in touch via chats, work from our home offices, prefer to order groceries via Lieferando or Gorillas, and plan virtual museum visits for our free time. These changes suggest that our information and purchasing behaviour will be altered long-term.

► Sign up for the WoM web seminar with Christoph Spengler on May 16, at 2 pm

As pioneers, you have already been working on ‘customer journey‘ and ‘touchpoint management‘ for over 15 years. Aren't these English terms, which are used a lot in German as well, degenerating into overused buzz words?

Christoph Spengler: I'm glad you brought that up. We’ve noticed that there is currently quite a lot of confusion around the language used in the industry and in companies. So I recommend that people take the trouble to define the core terms associated with customer-centricity. Experience shows that a common understanding of these central terms helps to anchor customer orientation even more strongly in a company.  By contact points or touchpoints, we mean all possible interactions by a (potential) customer during the information-gathering and purchasing process. The customer journey is the path that a customer follows before making a purchasing decision. In a next step, this knowledge about touchpoint usage must be incorporated into the design of customer processes. People often talk about customer journeys, but ultimately they mean customer processes.

Which touchpoints have been added during the pandemic and which have disappeared? Which have emerged as the most important?

Christoph Spengler: In general, we can say that the need for information has increasedFar more touchpoints are being used. Much more research and comparison is done before making a purchase or signing up for a service – and not just online. Of course, the journeys differ greatly according to the product category or target group involved.  We’ve also noticed that the current trend is clearly towards owned and earned touchpoints. Many paid touchpoints have lost reach and also relevance in the last two years. Companies were forced to establish new and innovative touchpoints for their daily business, such as chatbots, voicebots, and video support via smartphone. Particularly in the context of these new and sometimes disruptive touchpoints, customer expectations are high. Customers today want to be understood by the company, or feel close to it. Companies must be able to respond empathetically to the needs and wishes of their customers.

What makes it so difficult to identify the right touchpoints in a company?

Christoph Spengler: Marketing is more complex than ever before. Digitalization is creating an unmanageable volume of touchpoints and data. Today, even mid-sized companies manage well over 200 touchpoints along the customer journey. It is simply impossible to use pure intuition to determine the central touchpoints. Data-based decision-making or objectification can help to make better decisions.

Does it make sense to keep an eye on every touchpoint, or can we just focus on the most important ones?

Christoph Spengler: In principle, we should keep an eye on all possible analogue and digital touchpoints – including those that the company doesn’t yet use, but which are offered by the competition. However, in view of ever-shrinking budgets and immense wastage, it makes little sense to be active across all touchpoints. So it’s essential to know which touchpoints are relevant for the target groups. This is the only way to be present at the right time with the right content at the relevant touchpoints. The rule here is: less is often more.

How do you identify these "key touchpoints"? What method do you use to do this?

Christoph Spengler: To collect data on the touchpoints, we survey customers and non-customers using our own scientifically validated approach. In addition to reach (breadth of impact), we also determine the relevance (depth of impact) of the touchpoints. Based on the data collected, we run algorithms to calculate the central key touchpoints in sales, marketing and communication. This enables us to precisely and verifiably simulate the most effective mix for strategies and campaigns, depending on the task at hand. This not only saves time and money, but also makes our clients more successful.  We first created and validated our survey methods with the University of Zurich. The algorithms were developed by two InnoSuisse research projects and have proven themselves in practice for over ten years now.

Consumers are always and everywhere being asked how satisfied they are, especially when it comes to digital shopping. How will it be possible to get people to participate in the multitude of micro-surveys in the future?

Christoph Spengler: The usefulness or not of such micro-surveys is debatable. In my opinion, it’s somewhat exhausting for customers to be asked at every touchpoint about their satisfaction or their willingness to recommend the company to others. This is why such micro-surveys should be used in a much more targeted way, as well as to generate new knowledge. These surveys are often employed in places where the success factors are actually quite clear. These days there’s a lot that can be measured and assessed without asking customers directly. Which is why I’m all the more surprised that so many customer processes are so complicated and full of unnecessary hurdles.

German customer expectations have changed in recent years. What is now expected of companies?

Christoph Spengler: In our research, we’ve found that the Corona pandemic has provided a digitalization push in most fields and industries. Omnichannel is a given. This expectation is now ingrained in our daily routines – at work, in education, while shopping, traveling, or even during leisure time.  Customers want to be understood by companies. This means that they want to be addressed at the touchpoints relevant from their own point of view. It’s why pure push- or scattergun communication is rarely effective. Today's customers want to be addressed and treated as individuals. So it’s critical for success to have a method that allows knowledge about customers to be much better integrated into communication and customer relationship management.

What target group is your web seminar at Week of Market Research aimed at?

Christoph Spengler: In addition to (business) market researchers, the webinar is aimed at decision-makers in sales, marketing, service and communication, who are concerned with business development, customer experience, customer insights, and digitalization.

► Sign up for the Christoph Spengler’s web seminar on May 16, at 2 pm

What tip can you give the readers regarding their touchpoint management?

Christoph Spengler: The technology for digitalization, automation and individualization is available. Now it's about using outstanding customer experiences to make a real difference. To achieve this, relevant knowledge about customers must be transferred to marketing and customer processes.


Christoph Spengler is the Founder and Managing Director of Accelerom. He worked in leading positions in the consumer goods, retail and financial industry for more than fifteen years, including at Unilever, McDonald's and PWC. In addition, Christoph Spengler has been a guest speaker and lecturer on strategic marketing and sales management for several years at various universities in Switzerland and Germany.

 The interview was originally published on – here.

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