The importance of user experience (UX) has been a major theme of marketing, project management and design (affecting products and services of all kinds) over recent years. This has been expressed in numerous ways, but the customer (member, donor, client) journey and the employee journey are notable examples.
Touchpoints on the journey
Journey maps or charts usually feature the various touchpoints where interaction occurs between the organisation and members of the community it serves. As indicated in the chart below, a touchpoint means:
- a point of contact or interaction, especially between a business and its customers or consumers.
“every touchpoint must reflect, reinforce, and reiterate your core brand strategy”
- a point of reference.
“one of the cultural touchpoints for the late 1990s”
- any encounter where organisations and their stakeholders (including employees and volunteers) engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions
Given the very broad definition offered in the third of these meanings, it is evident that touchstones can be identified for almost everything done within the organisation. The chart which follows hints at this by reference to four types of activity, each of which comprises a number of stages. At each stage, various interaction opportunities and events may occur.
Touchstones for quality
While journey maps often highlight user pain points (emotional triggers), they do not always mention the standards applicable to each touchpoint. Minimum acceptable standards might be included, but the key for any organisation wanting to improve the quality of their user experiences is to highlight best practices and the ‘gold standard’ that staff, volunteers, and organisational systems should aspire to.
As noted in the chart above, a touchstone is defined as:
- a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognised
- a basic principle for judging quality
- a fundamental or quintessential part or feature: basis
The original term derives from the late 15th century, when gold and silver were rubbed (or touched) against a touchstone of black quartz. This allowed the assessor to confirm the purity of the metals by checking the color of the streaks left on the stone. Since then, the touchstone has become a metaphor, referring to any physical or intellectual measure by which the validity or merit of a concept or interaction can be tested.
If we want to assess the quality of the interaction occurring at each touchpoint in a client’s or employee’s journey, we can use relevant touchstones (standards or benchmarks) to do so.
Three sample sets of touchstones and touchpoints
In the tables and charts below, three sample sets of touchpoints and touchstones are provided to illustrate just some of the possibilities. Each pair of tables and charts contains essentially the same information, however, the tables include brief clarifying notes regarding each of the listed touchpoints and touchstones. Readers will doubtless be able to identify many additional examples applicable to their work.
The Touchpoint and Touchstone sample sets illustrated here relate to:
- how organisations interact with their customers and other stakeholders
- how organisations interact with employees/volunteers
- how project teams interact in an organisational setting
An organisation’s specific touchpoints will depend on its goals, resources, and target audience/s. Equally, the specific standards (touchstones) to be applied, and the criteria used to calibrate the quality of interactions involved, will depend on the organisation’s industry and goals, and the needs and expectations of its stakeholders.
Touchpoints and Touchstones for stakeholder interactions
There are many different types of touchpoints that organisations use to interact with their customers and other stakeholders. Likewise, there are numerous touchstones by which they can evaluate the quality of those interactions. Some common examples are suggested in the table and chart below:
|STAKEHOLDER TOUCHPOINTS||STAKEHOLDER TOUCHSTONES|
(for reference as applicable)
|In-office or in-store experiences: Physical retail locations where members, donors, clients, or customers can interact with products, services, and staff.|
Websites: Online platforms that allow customers to browse products, make purchases, and find information about an organisation.
Mobile apps: Applications that can be downloaded to a mobile device and used to interact with an organisation’s products or services.
Social media: Online platforms that allow organisations to connect with customers and other stakeholders through posts, messages, and other forms of communication.
Customer service centres: Physical or virtual locations where customers can receive assistance with questions or problems.
Email: Electronic messages sent by an organisation to communicate with customers or other stakeholders.
Direct mail: Physical materials, such as letters or brochures, sent by an organisation to customers or other stakeholders.
Events: Physical or virtual gatherings organized by an organisation to promote its products or services.
Advertising: Messages created by an organisation to promote its products or services and delivered through various channels, such as television, radio, or online.
|Brand standards: Guidelines for how an organisation’s brand should be represented across all touchpoints, including logo use, color schemes, and messaging.|
Customer service standards: Expectations for how an organisation should interact with customers, including response times, resolution of issues, and overall service quality.
Accessibility standards: Requirements for ensuring that an organisation’s products, services, and touchpoints are accessible to people with disabilities.
Security standards: Measures put in place by an organisation to protect sensitive information and ensure the security of its systems and data.
Legal standards: Requirements set by laws and regulations that an organisation must follow in its interactions with stakeholders.
Ethical standards: Principles that guide an organisation’s decision-making and behaviour, such as honesty, transparency, and fairness.
User experience (UX) standards: Expectations for how easy and enjoyable it is for stakeholders to interact with an organisation’s products or services.
Environmental standards: Requirements for minimizing the environmental impact of an organisation’s operations and products.
Quality standards: Expectations for the level of excellence and reliability of an organisation’s products or services.
Touchpoints and Touchstones for interactions with employees/volunteers
Various touchstones and standards can be applied to touchpoints between organisations and their employees and volunteers. More than one set of standards may be applicable to certain interactions.
You are likely to already employ various means by which to evaluate employee/volunteer engagement and performance, and to have your own set of criteria to determine the quality of the interactions involved. Hopefully, this set of examples will offer some additional ideas for your consideration.
|EMPLOYEE/VOLUNTEER TOUCHPOINTS||EMPLOYEE/VOLUNTEER TOUCHSTONES|
(for reference as applicable)
|In-person meetings: Physical gatherings of employees or volunteers for training, team-building, or other purposes.|
Email: Electronic messages sent by an organisation to communicate with employees or volunteers.
Phone calls: Voice conversations between employees or volunteers and organisation representatives.
Instant messaging: Real-time text-based communication between employees or volunteers and organisation representatives.
Video conferencing: Virtual meetings conducted over the internet using video and audio technology.
Intranet: A private network used by an organisation to communicate and share information with its employees or volunteers.
Employee portals: Online platforms that allow employees or volunteers to access information and resources related to their work.
Training programs: Formalised programs designed to teach employees or volunteers new skills or knowledge.
Performance evaluations: Assessments of an employee or volunteer’s job performance and areas for improvement.
Feedback sessions: Opportunities for employees or volunteers to provide feedback on their work and the organisation as a whole.
Organisational events: Gatherings arranged by the organisation for its employees or volunteers, e.g. team-building activities or company ‘parties’.
Social media: Online platforms that allow organisations to connect with employees or volunteers through posts, messages, and other forms of communication.
Employee/volunteer handbook: A document that outlines an organisation’s policies and procedures for its employees or volunteers.
Employee/volunteer newsletter: A publication distributed to employees or volunteers that contains news and information about the organisation.
Payroll and benefits: Systems and processes used by the organisation to manage employee or volunteer compensation and benefits.
HR support: Human resources departments or staff that provide support and assistance to employees or volunteers on issues such as hiring, development, and dispute resolution.
Career development: Programs and resources offered by the organisation to help employees or volunteers advance in their careers.
Workplace safety: Measures put in place by the organisation to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees or volunteers.
Employee/volunteer recognition: Programs that recognize and reward the contributions of employees or volunteers.
Employee/volunteer surveys: Surveys conducted by the organisation to gather feedback from employees or volunteers on a variety of issues.arranged
|Performance standards: Expectations for how well employees and volunteers should perform their job duties and meet objectives.|
Professional development standards: Requirements for continuing education and training to ensure that employees and volunteers have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their roles.
Code of conduct: Guidelines for ethical behaviour and decision-making that employees and volunteers are expected to follow.
Diversity and inclusion standards: Principles and guidelines for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Health and safety standards: Measures put in place to protect the health and well-being of employees and volunteers.
Communication standards: Expectations for how employees and volunteers should communicate with one another and with other stakeholders.
Workplace policies: Rules and guidelines governing various aspects of the workplace, such as time off, dress code, and use of company resources.
Leadership standards: Expectations for how leaders in the organisation should behave and interact with employees and volunteers.
Talent management standards: Policies and processes for recruiting, retaining, and developing top talent in the organisation.
Touchpoints and Touchstones for project management
The touchpoints involved in project management tend to reflect the staged ‘model’ or process employed in each organisation. The table and chart below offer just a few examples, which you may wish to adapt in light of your preferred project management model.
|PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOUCHPOINTS||PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOUCHSTONES|
(for reference as applicable)
|Project charter: A document outlining the scope, goals, and stakeholders of a project.|
Project plan: A detailed plan outlining the tasks, resources, and timeline for a project.
Gantt chart: A graphical representation of a project’s tasks and dependencies over time.
Risk management plan: A document outlining the potential risks to a project and how they will be mitigated.
Status reports: Regular updates on the progress of a project, including completed tasks, issues, and next steps.
Meetings: Gatherings of project team members and stakeholders to discuss progress, issues, and decisions.
Stakeholder communication: Communication with individuals or groups who have an interest in the project, such as project sponsors or affected departments.
Issue tracking: A system for identifying, documenting, and addressing issues that arise during a project.
Change management: Processes for handling changes to the scope, resources, or timeline of a project.
Quality control: Measures put in place to ensure that the project deliverables meet the required standards.
|Project management methodologies: Approaches to project management that provide a framework for planning, executing, and closing projects, such as Agile or Waterfall.|
Quality standards: Expectations for the level of excellence and reliability of the deliverables produced by a project.
Legal standards: Requirements set by laws and regulations that a project team must follow in its work.
Ethical standards: Principles that guide the project team’s decision-making and behaviour, such as honesty, transparency, and fairness.
Risk management standards: Guidelines for identifying and mitigating potential risks to a project.
Communication standards: Expectations for how project team members and stakeholders should communicate with one another.
Change management standards: Guidelines for handling changes to the scope, resources, or timeline of a project.
Financial management standards: Expectations for how the project’s budget should be managed and reported on.
Resource management standards: Expectations for how project resources, such as time and personnel, should be allocated and used.
Governance standards: Expectations for how procedures are to be implemented in compliance with organisational policies and protocols
Security standards: Measures put in place by an organisation to protect sensitive project information and ensure the security of its systems and data.
Every touchpoint is a quality improvement opportunity
The three sets of examples above demonstrate just some of the ways key interactions can influence the achievement of your purpose and delivery of your mission. Your board and management team will need to decide for themselves which aspects of their organisation’s operations warrant the identification of touchpoints and associated touchstones.
Evaluation of the quality of the interactions associated with each touchpoint also requires local decision-making. The criteria used to judge interaction quality for a charity may well be quite different from the criteria involved for a professional body or industry association.