January 2020 - Striven

How Touchpoint Strategy Influences Customer Experience

Customer experience is something that, when planned, moves mountains. 

It’s a lot like the relationship between guide and hiker. Point to point to point, up the mountain, looking for the next safe landing spot— until you reach the summit together. You turn and look at the path you charted, and your client experiences that pivotal ‘aha’ moment. The one where they stare at the beautiful scenery, and appreciate what it took to get here.

As the guide, you need to assess and visualize that view before you even start: 

business partners talking about all in one business management software
  • Where do you begin? 
  • What trails do you lead them along? 
  • At which points do you stop and engage them along the way? 
  • What do you supply your client with so they can successfully plant their flag at the top?

There are a couple of concepts that can help you with this. Developing an accurate customer profile can tell you a lot about where they might want to stop to see a particular feature. And anticipating your customers’ needs and desires allows you to leverage your experience to establish trust with your client as they make their way up.

But what are the transformative moments of conversation between you and your client that make the journey truly worth taking—that gets them to follow you?

Those moments are called touchpoints. A touchpoint is any form of communication a consumer uses to interact with a business. And creating a strategy around your touchpoints can make or break your customer experience.

Evaluate Your Customer Strategy

customer experience management software

While many businesses have disorganized ways of acquiring customers, strategizing based on touchpoints and deploying them via CRM can lead to the most successful and coherent customer strategy. Having an outlined strategy is also better for the individual customer, because you are giving them a natural starting point at the bottom of the mountain.

Creating a customer strategy requires you to ask some questions while you envision the summit:

  • What is indispensable to your customer’s experience? 
  • What types of touchpoints can address that experience? 
  • How will you implement those touchpoints?
  • What types of customers do the touchpoints you create – or that are organic – drive to your business?
  • Do you have multiple touchpoint plans plotted out for different types of customers?
  • Which touchpoints do you choose once a contact becomes a lead?
  • How do you funnel them toward a sale— what types of touchpoints will inspire their trust and continued loyalty?

“Linking your customer strategy to your company’s value proposition goes beyond lining up the right processes from marketing, sales, and data analytics,” write Thomas Ripsam and Louis Bouquet for Strategy+Business. “It means aligning the emotional elements of your customer strategy, and all customer touch points including pricing, with the strongest capabilities your company has.”

In a nutshell: figure out what you want your customer to experience, nail down how you want them to experience it, and decide what will best promote what makes you attractive.

Use CRM to Layer Your Touchpoint Approach

customer journey management software

When you’ve gone through and answered the questions above, you should deploy the touchpoints that work best for your company. This is the step after visualization, where you actually create the path you want the client to follow. Knowing how to utilize language that supports each level of touchpoint is imperative, because it helps to successfully create that path. 

Business owners can structure their touchpoints at the company level and at the sales level.

Company-level touchpoints set the public identity for your business. There are a number of touchpoints that can be considered company-level:

These are not housed inside of your CRM software. However, they can be utilized through the touchpoints available to you at the sales level. Sales-level touchpoints set the tone for the consumer on a one-to-one basis. Some examples of sales-level touchpoints: 

  • Sales agent-to-client emails
  • Phone calls
  • Newsletters
  • Demos
  • On-site consultations
Blog Writing

You might have user documentation on your website that prospects would like to see before they make a commitment with you. You can use your CRM system to send out targeted links containing relevant information, and record which agent-to-client emails your prospect opens. Newsletters can serve as a funnel for social channels or a link to a whitepaper. 

There are an infinite number of combinations and ways for your clients to experience your company through the touchpoint strategy that you create.


Designing the customer experience doesn’t require you to use all of the touchpoints at your disposal. Knowing which touchpoints to choose and how to structure the relative content is a strategy unique to every business. It’s what makes a great guide, and what consistently gets your clients to the top of their mountain.

Utilize collaboration with your team to figure out where potential contacts and potential clients are likely to encounter your company, plot out your touchpoint strategy, and continue to evaluate which ones are likely to execute your customer strategy effectively.

This article is part of a series on CRM software. Stay in touch to find out more about CRM, its uses and functions, and how it can help your business grow in 2020.

You’re An Expert. Do Your Customers Care?

You’ve stacked your business high with experts in your field. When hiring, you’ve sought relevant experience and the deep knowledge required to really “get” what your business does. Because you’re experienced, too. The expertise you have from the years you’ve put in and the things you’ve learned is beyond valuable. It’s one of the biggest reasons people do business with you.

It’s great that you and your team are experts. But your customers don’t really care about that. And why not? Because that’s not their top concern.

performance appraisals

If you’ve ever bought a product or requested a service from a business and had your phone calls ignored, had an “expert” talk over your head, or been passed around between representatives, you know how bad that feels. You want to trust a business, but you suspect that, as a customer, you’re not their top priority. Instead, you’re putting your fate in their hands without any actual ownership of your experience. And you’re about to pay someone for that? 

When it comes to your business, that’s how some of your customers might actually feel about your team.

Fortunately, your expertise can be a huge asset to your customer base if you’re able to actually help them along their journey. Knowing what they want and need, while providing them with excellent customer experiences, is key. But you need the tools to do it— that’s where your CRM software comes in.

When most people think of CRM, they simply see a database for storing customer information. But it’s much more than that. Your CRM can actually help you harness your experience to develop a deeper connection with your clients.

Here are three ways to do it:

Give Your Team Better Access to Customers

business management software handoff

With CRM software, your data exists in a centralized place that allows you to consolidate your customer profile and kickstart sales. Your entire team has access to details relating to your sales pipeline. And with cloud-based CRM software, they can do it anywhere they need to.

That’s great stuff. But it’s the way you use your customer data, and how that information is shared among your team that matters.

Once a contact becomes a customer, your sales agent hands off all of the information they gathered through the opportunity stage to an account representative. Clients have ongoing needs that should be recorded and referenced by customer service at all times.

Your customers may have received certain information during the early stages of the sales process and not other information. You don’t want to waste their time repeating information, while leaving them in the dark on other things they need to know. CRM software enables your account representative to easily make decisions on where your customers are in their journey— and give them what they need in each moment.

When you make this process smooth, your customers will appreciate it. They’ll feel like you’re actually being helpful as they become more familiar with your business. Which is a good thing, because you are actually making it easier for them.

Make the Customer Journey Truly Personalized

business management software experience

Personalization is now the norm for the customer experience. It factors into everything, from the actual purchase of your company’s services, to how clients promote the ongoing company conversation. It is client-focused, with an emphasis on relationship-building.

Touchpoints – how a consumer interacts with your business – are the key to creating a personalized sales approach. A touchpoint can be anything—a face-to-face, phone call, website or blog, app, or a whitepaper.

Giving your sales team a multiform approach by which to make their sales promotes an organic method for personalization. Entrepreneur’s short discussion on the number of touchpoints vs quality of existing touchpoints is particularly relevant here: “By making both routes easier for salespeople, CRM systems can increase lead conversion rates by 300 percent while boosting purchase value by 40 percent.” 

Basically: the more options you have to connect with your clients in a way that suits their particular style or need, the better chance you have of making sure they get value from what they want. And that they get it from someone who is interested in making that experience even better. 

You’re creating a mindset for your customer that addresses their desire for a one-on-one, tailored relationship.

Automate- But Only The Right Things

On the surface, automation sounds like something completely de-personalized. But if you automate the right things, your team will actually be able to spend more time on building a better customer relationship.  

What can be automated through CRM? 

  • Data entry (example: adding contacts automatically from forms filled out on your website). 
  • Personalized email newsletter campaigns based on actions taken or interests expressed to a representative (welcome campaigns, too). 
  • Customer interaction, chat information, and reminders to follow up. 

Done well, automation can be used to maintain a flow of conversation between you and your clients on all levels of interaction, including the social sphere. The difference between the two is that automation is the step in between personalization and outward conversation: it guides your clients and shows them where to direct their interest. 

business management automation software

Think of the process by which a contact becomes a lead through your website: the contact browses your services online and decides to fill out your contact form. Your automation sends them an email campaign welcoming them. It then sends them targeted information about your services, and encourages them to validate your experience level. 

Maybe you’re a travel company, and your new lead indicated they’re interested in Alaska and the Northern Lights. Your system pushes out information about Alaska—along with a few emails designed to get them thinking about Greenland, Iceland, or Norway as their next adventure. It encourages them to talk to you if they have any questions about what they’ve received and to check what past or current travelers are saying online about their experiences with you in all four destinations.

All of that automation saves you a ton of time with a little initial effort. The mindset here is twofold: it creates the feeling of effortless conversation for both the sales agent and the client. And it creates the mindset that there is a path for the client to follow—that you’re leading your client through the woods past the scary wolf to grandma’s house.


You may think it’s hard for your business to get customers. But take a minute and see it from their side:

customer data platform

These days, it’s really hard to be a customer. There are too many choices, and everyone is posing as an expert. In the end, the business teams that use their expertise to guide the customers’ experiences while actually meeting their needs will be the ones who win.

Make your expertise relevant to your customers. And make sure you’re using your CRM in a way that uses your experience to help them accomplish their goals.

This article is part of a series on CRM software. Stay in touch to find out more about CRM, its uses and functions, and how it can help your business grow in 2020.

5 Ways To Give The Government More Tax Money Than You Owe

In just a few short months you’re going to have a painful experience. You’re going to file your tax returns. And even if you’re current on what you owe and even in this relatively lower tax environment, you’ll probably look at the amount of taxes due from 2019 and go…wow!  

When you add up your federal, state, and local taxes (and let’s not forget the duties, fees, tariffs, tolls, surcharges and other amounts added to your cable, internet, airplane and hotel bills) you’re probably paying somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of your income to the government.

20 to 30 percent seems like a lot. And it is. But, hey…want to pay more? Sounds good! Let me give you some advice that will enable you to accomplish that in 2020.

For starters, make sure to keep lousy records. 

accounting software

Be disorganized. Throw away those annoying invoices. Don’t maintain files. Ignore today’s affordable tech that allows you to snap photos of receipts or easily record out of pocket expenses. Instead, just put your tax returns together based on memory. Or spend lots and lots of additional time hunting for that lost piece of paper. If you have an accountant, make sure to make her job as difficult as possible by turning her into a private investigator on an endless search for your supporting documentation. You don’t mind spending the extra money to do that, do you? Or losing valuable deductions either? I thought not.

Next, make sure to do your taxes yourself

Why not? Taxes are so easy, right? I understand you own a restaurant or you run a parts distribution business. But you also know everything there is to know about taxes like an experienced accountant or attorney too, I’m sure. It’s not complicated. And I’m sure you’re completely happy to rely on the tax software provided by companies that don’t know your business very well and use the information that you…YOU…are entering to figure out what you owe. You’re completely prepared to file all the returns and paperwork necessary and I’m sure you’re confident that the makers of your tax software product will happily respond to any more requests for information from the IRS or immediately fly out to your hometown and stand beside you in the case of an audit. Great, you’re fine.

If you do have an accountant, make sure to keep her in the dark.

accounting software silos

Hopefully, you’ve realized by now to employ a Certified Public Accountant – or any good accounting professional well versed in taxation – to either do your taxes or review the work you’ve done before you file. But remember, we’re trying to pay more taxes this year. That’s the goal. So to achieve that goal, make sure to have zero communications with your tax expert throughout the year. Don’t meet with her. Don’t call her. Don’t keep her apprised of any changes in your business or personal life. Whatever you do, don’t give her easy portal access to your books. Most of the tax professionals I know are also clairvoyant, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to read your mind or capture your data through cosmic osmosis to properly do your returns and calculate what you owe. Just keep them in the dark. They’ll figure it out.

Also, please…stay as uneducated as possible.

I get it – who the heck wants to learn even the most basic information about an expense that takes almost a third of your income away? Boring! And who has the time to read all of the countless, user-friendly, easy-to-understand websites, “Dummies” books and other publications that at the very least provide a basic education of the deductions, credits and other tax benefits that are available to you, both individually and as a small business owner? Sure, you know that if you spent one-tenth of the time reading up on tax stuff that affects you as you do reading about new ways to get leads for your business you might, in the end, contribute more to your profits through the savings realized. But that’s not that fun, is it?

Finally, if you owe money then delay paying as long as possible.

Bad Company Culture

Your accountant may give you quarterly estimates to make during the year. Do you pay them on time? Oh, please…just don’t. Sit on them. Let the liability build up so that at some point you have to make a giant payment that cripples your cash flow. Keep the money on hand for as long as possible. That way you can contribute even more to the government through interest and penalties. It’s a simple way for you to pay more and that’s what it’s all about, right?

See? It’s easy to pay more to the government than you really owe. And why not? The government does so many great things that we might as well pay in as much as possible. That sounds like a much better use of our funds than investing in our businesses, saving for retirement or paying for our kids’ education, right?

Transforming the Conversation: Using CRM Software to Fuel Your Customer Experience

As the proud owner of a busy 3-year-old, I often think about the best way to explain…everything. Why he should brush his teeth at night. How to build with Lincoln Logs. What he should do when another kid at daycare takes the toy he’s playing with. I constantly grapple with helping him develop solution-oriented thinking. 

person looking at all in one business management software

Here’s what runs through my mind:

  • What will grab his attention and get my point across? 
  • How can he act on that information? 
  • What will allow him to tackle the challenges at his level— without too much influence?
  • How do I promote a conversation between us that is based on trust?

You can ask yourself a lot of the same questions about your business, and how to create an open conversation with your clients that benefits you both.

We’ve talked about the importance of consolidating your customer profile in order to kickstart sales. Now, we’re going to explore how customer conversation can fuel your growth—and meet your clients where they are.

Personalizing the Customer Experience with CRM Software

A scenario: 

You’re the office manager of an apartment property management company, and yesterday you welcomed a new tenant. Before they moved in, you gave them the option to remodel their bathroom and upgrade their washer/dryer. They accepted and are very happy with the upgrades, but their washer/dryer wasn’t installed correctly. They send the office a message through their online task portal, and you schedule their maintenance for the same day.

It’s the most painless maintenance experience they’ve ever had, and they send you a thank you. But you’ve got more up your sleeve, and you don’t stop there.

Your receptionist remembers the customer’s name when they come in and that they like the Thai place on the corner. The maintenance staff checks in regularly to see if there’s anything they need. And you keep the community well-informed through newsletters about everything from roof replacement to the starting time of Main Street’s annual Independence Day parade.

With service like that, why would your tenants choose to live anywhere else?

crm software experience

That’s personalizing the customer experience, with a strong emphasis on client relationship and dialogue. The strategy, while encased in a fictional example, can easily apply to any service-based business. As Harvard Business Review notes in their study on personalization, “nine in 10 survey respondents say their customers now expect them to know their interests and anticipate their needs…they expect to receive personalized recommendations that are helpful and relevant.”

Personalization is key to your sales approach, but you have to go about it efficiently. If you’re hyperfocused on handling each and every customer without a way to harness that information in a streamlined fashion (i.e. if you have to use 20 different programs to personalize), your employees are going to forget that your customers are actual people who just want individualized service. 

CRM software was built for just that purpose. It keeps you and your clients on track.

Using CRM to Establish Trust Through Relevancy

So, how do these actions help you attract and land new prospects online? It starts with establishing a baseline of trust with your clients and future prospects.

mental health services softwarae

After you implement a CRM system, your fragmented customer profile becomes synchronized and easily accessible. The question is: what are your customer’s needs, and how do you start meeting them more successfully? Extend your focus out past your marketing and really connect with your clients’ personal pursuits.

Here are some starters to begin personalizing the conversation:

  • Ask your clients what’s going on in their lives. Make a connection with your client first, pay attention to nuance, and take notes. How do they spell their name, and do they get frustrated when companies send them emails with it spelled wrong? Did their aunt have a cancer scare last month? Put those notes into your client profile.
  • Find out what they’re struggling with. Is there a piece of something they’d like to do that they can’t find a solution for? Why? Do you have an alternate recommendation for their situation that might fit them better?
  • What can you do better? Do it. Ask them for feedback on your services and see if there’s a way to refine what you thought was right for them.

Finally, ask for an update. When you speak with them next time, ask about their aunt. Did they end up trying the pho at that new Vietnamese place for their anniversary? How did that fix to the dryer work out? Show them you’re paying attention, that you’re a real person, and that you’re focused on what they want from you.

Push the Conversation Outward

Once you’ve begun building trust, it’s time to create a dialogue that revolves around your customer’s experience. You want to make it easy for clients to participate in your company dialog where it matters. And you want to use that conversation to reach new clients.

crm marketing software

Here’s a simple 3-step process you can follow:

  • What is your organization doing right now
  • Why is that relevant to your clients, 
  • How does that feed into the ongoing overall discussion?

In 2018, only 30% of businesses practiced even the most rudimentary forms of personalization, but that number has continued to grow. Personalization is now the rule, not the exception, and there are so many ways to get your clients involved in your dialog. 

  • You might create multi touch email campaigns through your CRM tailored to customers who are involved in local industries or interests.
  • Your customers will take the information you provide and answer you directly with questions or comments. They’ll use social channels to discuss it, and invite others to join in on that conversation.
  • Your interaction on a personal level with your client’s needs, as well as your participation in their online dialog, will prompt them to continue their engagement.The result is more conversation: a private or online testimonial, word of mouth and recommendations to acquaintances, and more clients. 

Tap the flow of your client’s conversation, and your client base will thrive.


Asking questions, creating a back-and-forth between myself and my son, and placing targeted stepping stones lead him in the right direction. The important thing is that it promotes his forward momentum and enables him to fulfill his own goals. In the same way, business relationships built on trust, commitment, and mutual benefit yield genuine results.

In their online review, your clients emphasize your trustworthiness, commitment to good business practices and the well-being of your tenants, and your initiative in recognizing changes that may benefit tenants. They give you the highest recommendation and tell everyone they know about you.

Eventually they buy a house to accommodate their growing family and vacate. Two months later, they show up on your doorstep. Son in hand, they’re holding the invite you sent them to tour the community’s holiday lights display. You’re showing a potential tenant around, and your old tenants chime in before they leave: “You’re going to love living here.”

The most effective things in business tend to be simple. Taking care of your clients, staying relevant to their needs, and finding ways to engage them in your company conversation at all levels is a vital step towards transforming your business’ growth.

This article is part of a series on CRM software. Stay in touch to find out more about CRM, its uses and functions, and how it can help your business grow in 2020.

How CRM Software Can Kickstart Your Sales

Post-it notes, notebooks, filing systems, Rolodexes, and spreadsheets. They all have two things in common: they’re used for storing information, and they don’t share very well. They don’t talk to one another, and passing them to the next person sometimes requires interpretation. They’re like kids working on a group project with the same basic instructions but entirely different ways to tackle their part.

Stressed office worker with too much demand on thier time

They’re highly individualistic when it comes to customer profiling. Your sales agent might use:

  • a post-it to jot down their lead’s new address from a recent phone call. 
  • a filing system or a Word document to hold information on each client’s purchase or interest. 
  • a spreadsheet with manually-entered vendor information they obtained at last month’s conference. 

And your employees will also record their customer data using a style that may not transfer well to someone who needs to know: you. The group project leader.

Your services or products themselves take many routes to obtain new clients. Word of mouth, search engines, any advertising you may deploy, social media, and partnerships are all avenues for building your professional community. But where does that information get stored at the customer level?

Consolidating Your Customer Profile

Isolated information from these methods fragments your customer profile. And as your client volume scales upwards, things become more complex and more difficult to track without a centralized solution. 

No matter what type of growing small business you manage—service-based, manufacturing, distribution—you need a way to track that information. You need to: 

  • qualify and manage your prospective leads, and hit your sales targets as your presence grows. 
  • find a way to provide a personalized experience to each client by rounding out their data in an easily-accessible format. 
  • access hub where your lead sources, prospective customers, your existing clients, and their needs reside. 

You need a CRM, short for ‘customer relationship management’ software system.

But if you’ve never used a CRM, how do you know what to look for?

Key Functions of CRM Software

As Jason Kulpa writes in Forbes, a CRM system “creates a simple user interface for a collection of data that helps businesses recognize and communicate with customers in a scalable way.” CRM systems are built for client management and engagement.

crm software funnel

Here are some of the key functions of CRM software:

  • Puts your customers’ information front and center, allowing you to target their interests and give them an experience tailored to them.
  • Helps your sales team prioritize their leads and determine how complex their approach needs to be for each potential client.
  • Allows management to see how sales agents are performing, and where they need direction.

In order to know which CRM software will be useful for your company, it’s important to evaluate your business’ unique challenges. For a small business, your main set of challenges usually begins with the sales pipeline. Some questions you should be asking:

  • Where do each of your leads come from? 
  • How much time do you spend sending out emails to prospective clients?
  • Where do you keep your notes on each client’s preferences?
  • How do you track your sales?

These and other topics are important to identify and discuss with your team. Talking with your employees about their needs and doing your research will help you move forward with CRM software in a way that leads to a more efficient sales-client relationship.

CRM: a Gateway to Standardized Communication

The best CRM systems integrate across silos to meet the needs of all relevant departments, operating as part of a larger system that can do more. Yes, your sales team is the main user of your CRM, but how often does your entire team need access to related data?

Take service-based businesses for example, in which task management is routine. In real estate or property management, the services you provide clients in relation to a sale factor into your CRM needs. 

customer relationship management. people sitting on a CRM cloud

Some examples:

  1. As a realtor, you may need to stage a home in order to make the sale. You’ll have specific tasks that need to be addressed before the home can be considered ‘staged’: remove or decrease personal items of the owner. Rent furniture and/or plants to give the property the right look and feel for prospective buyers. Work on the home’s curb appeal to create a welcoming atmosphere during the open house.
  2. As a property manager, you may need to schedule a visit to replace the hot water heater in one of your client’s properties before they can obtain a tenant. When a new tenant signs a lease, you may need to need to remodel a feature of the bathroom or rekey the doors. And members of your team will need to respond to ongoing maintenance requests to keep those tenants.
  3. These tasks may or may not be done by the same people over time. So if you’re still taking notes on paper and using a filing system to keep tasks or larger projects organized, you’re doing your business a disservice. You’re in sore need of centralized communication.


crm software

Clients and tasks require you to have an accessible database of knowledge in order to attain a higher level of sales functionality. They also display the need for cross-functional software with features that address reporting, accounting, and project management.

So is CRM software right for your business? If you’re a business and you want to kickstart your sales in 2020, the answer is yes. 

This article is part of a series on CRM software. Stay in touch to find out more about CRM, its uses and functions, and how it can help your business grow in 2020.