Design like Apple using Touchpoint framework

There is a secret behind any successful product or service. Their designers spent countless hours to fully understand their customers and target market, then steadily and interactively went on to design the product or service that pleases and satisfies these customers.

The main tool to achieve a high level of customer understanding, and design a product with a high probability of success is the “customer touchpoint framework”.

It’s a 3 steps design process: first you try to holistically understand the customer through a timeline of his journey; second you identify the customer’s main behaviors, attitude, feelings, and encountered “painpoints” during his journey; and finally you identify the main touchpoints where your business or company needs improvement.

1. Mapping the customer journey

A customer journey looks at things entirely from the customers’ point of view: their actions, goals, questions, and barriers over time. You put your feet in your target customer shoes. Here is an example of a customer journey map.

(Click here to enlarge the image)

Here is another example of customer journey map by Rail Europe

(View and download a larger version)

The purpose of the exercise is to have a complete and holistic view, and understanding of the customer’s life, business, and mental models; the products and services they are already using during that timeline. This understanding is crucial for the positioning of your product and service.

According to Chris Ridson and Todd Wilkens, there are 4 key principles that will result in a successful customer journey mapping project that can influence business strategy and tactics. They are:

  1. Apply Science Before Adventure:  Your map should tell an engaging story, but it has to be true.  It has to be packed with insightful, quantitative customer and organizational data.  The goal is to craft a map that communicates a qualitative story based on quantitative data.  The more evidence you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to bring the product or service initiative forward.  Evidence is key, and that brings me to their next point.
  2. Focus on Experiences & Touchpoints: It’s important to remember that customer experiences are complex, and you must use an outside-in approach to tap into that complexity.  Customer touchpoint experiences incorporate feeling, thinking and doing.  A good map will give insight into the emotional and analytical aspects of a customer’s experience and help you understand what a customer thinks and feels about every touchpoint and how those emotions prompt them to act.
  3. Take Everyone With You:  A successful mapping initiative should engage a lot of people and include an interdisciplinary matrix of teams.  Mapping should be a process in which you take the whole team along; it needs to be a collaborative activity.  A good map reveals the process it took to get to the conclusions and gets everyone on the same page.  By “taking everyone with you” in the mapping process, your organization will be informed, united and prepared to take action on the findings that your map reveals.
  4. Compel Action: A good map should act as a catalyst, not a conclusion.  It should be the thing that starts a lot of “stuff” in your organization.  It should enable your organization to better understand your complete customer experience, reveal the true colors of your touchpoint interactions, surface focus areas, show you where you should be allocating budget and aligning resources, and how to best prioritize initiatives.

Here is a video posted on featuring a Customer Journey Mapping presentation by Chris Risdon & Todd Wilkens.

Here are also 6 great videos you can watch on the web to learn more if you are an UX designer or an experience designer:

1. A UX manager’s job is problem-framing, not problem-solving
and Emotional insights should also be treated as data for business decisions
— Kip Lee, Four Meta-Strategies for Design and Managemen

2. UX managers are translators of business strategies into design opportunities for staff
— Sara Koury, in Ian Swinson’s How Did I Get Here?
3. UX managers need to build a case, measure impact, integrate others in the work, then broadcast their story to the organization
4. UX managers need to understand the analytics data: “Understanding the data changed my career”
— Melissa Matross, Better Revenue through UX
5. The cloud means UX managers must stretch resources across more screens, but they also get to plan cross-channel customer journeys
6. UX managers must ask for deliverables and their intended impact
— Chris Risdon, Customer Journey Mapping

2. Understanding customer behavior inside the experience

The purpose this second step is to record the customer main expectations and behaviors, then carefully identify all frustrations and pain points. Frustrations and pain points are these singular moments where the customers expectations are not met or the customers felt some pain or frustration.

Here is a sample of customer behavioral matrix.

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As you can understand from the examples above, the Step 1 and step2 could be summarized in a single document, however you’ll be wise to complete the timeline of customer journey first, then move on to identify their behavior and mental model in each context.

Here is another example of behavioral matrix

(Click here to enlarge the image)

You can get advanced in depth guidance from the following articles:


3. Mapping and prioritizing Touchpoints

During the third steps, you make sure you identify all main touchpoints. A touchpoint is any interaction point between the customer and your business or organization. It’s the moment a customers with a need or a desire interact with your organization, whatever the channel.

It’s also called the “moment of truth”, which any instance where the customer and your organization come into contact with one another in a manner that gives the customer an opportunity to either form or change an impression about the firm.

Identifying and focusing on the interactions that are important to customers is the purpose of the exercise.

Here is a sample inventory of touchpoints by Rail Europe

(View and download a larger version)

According to Adam Richardson touchpoints fall into four general categories (you may need some modified categories of course, feel free to experiment):

  • Products: Using the term “product” loosely here, this includes the hardware, software, and services themselves. In the case of Progressive, this includes its vans and website. (I’m classifying the website as a product as it’s central to every aspect of Progressive’s business, from acquiring to servicing customers. Frei examines how the website’s feature of quoting competitive prices, for example, also has positive business benefits for Progressive. But for company’s where the website is a straightforward marketing tool, it may be better to classify it in Messages, which we’ll see below.)
  • Interactions: Two-way interactions that can be in-person (such as in a store), on the phone, or virtual (web sites, blogs, social network and user forum presences, and so on). Progressive minimizes in-person interactions to reduce costs and tries to have customers self-serve on the website, but when an accident does occur, the interaction with the agent in the white van is crucial. An interesting contrast is online shoe retailer Zappos, which wants customers to call, as the company sees that as a loyalty-builder for the brand, even if it’s relatively expensive. CEO Tony Hsieh says, “We believe that forming personal, emotional connections with our customers is the best way to provide great service.”
  • Messages: One-way communications that include brand, collateral, manuals, advertising, packaging, and the like. Progressive advertises heavily, with its minor-celebrity spokesperson Flo who works in the Progressive “store” in the TV commercials. In the previous article I mentioned the importance of the out-of-box-experience stage of the customer journey, and that typically falls into the Messages category as it focuses on establishing the brand voice and explaining a complex product to first-time users.
  • Settings: Anywhere that the product is seen or used: a retail store, a friend’s house, TV product placement, events, or shows. Especially in Big Box retail, we have seen that manufacturers and vendors have less and less influence over how their products are presented, making this a tricky touchpoint to manage.


Touchpoints invetory could be used for a product design as well as for sales roadmap. Here is an example of sales Roadmap using customer touchoints

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As the renown design expert Adam Richardson put it

“It’s Not Magic. Customer experience often seems ethereal, something which appears as if by magic, and only certain companies (the usual suspects — Zappos, Apple, Google, Southwest) are able to conjure it on a regular basis. So here’s the the good news: Creating a great customer experience does not require knowledge of magical incantations. Instead, customer experiences spring from concrete, controllable elements — the touchpoints. Most of these touchpoints are directly under the control of a company.

Also, according to Jennifer Kramp, one needs to keep in mind that customer journey mapping should be an ongoing discipline, for 2 reasons

1) Business Isn’t Static, so Maps Shouldn’t Be Either.  We work in an ever-changing ecosystem.  Customer segmentation changes, channels come and go, new products are introduced, acquisitions occur.  Attempting to map the customer journey in a one-off fashion is like an artist attempting to paint a still portrait of a subject that is perpetually moving — it doesn’t work well.  By the time you’re done with the initial map, changes in the business could have already occurred, making parts of the map irrelevant.  This may be a bit extreme, but it’s not too much of a stretch.  If a company doesn’t have a method and plan in place for keeping the map up to date with real-time business data, it will be more difficult to get a clear and ongoing understanding of the overall customer experience and how performance in specific areas adds or detratcs from value.

2) Time, Money & Metrics.  The process of mapping takes time.  Depending on which method you use to design a map, it can take A LOT of time and be quite complex.  If a company invests the time and resources  into mapping and goes through the effort of collecting all the quantitative and qualitative business and customer data required to create a good map, why wouldn’t it want to build upon that foundational work and continue adding to the map as new data comes available and business changes occur?

And, if a business doesn’t continuously rate or score itself in terms of touchpoint performance and map its progress towards eliminating painpoints and improving customer experience, how then can it consistently measure improvement over time?  To not map in an ongoing fashion to me seems like a waste of time, money and effort.

The Moment of truth

You can download the “Zero moment of Truth” kit here:

Get for free the book “Winning the Zero moment of Truth” by Google here:

Get started with Zero moment of truth resources here:


About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of, Founder of, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at

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