Monday, November 29, 2010

Visitor Touchpoints

The concept of Visitor Touchpoints helps us to regard the visitor experience as a multi-faceted whole comprised of a variety of contacts or touchpoints. Each place or time where the visitor makes contact with you is a touchpoint and an opportunity to influence their overall experience. Museums and galleries can provide  stronger and more positive visitor experience by identifying the full range of touchpoints and working to ensure that they offer consistent experiences across all potential contacts – including website, telephone, printed resources, physical site and staff/volunteer contacts.

Many visitors will go to your website to prepare for a physical visit, or other purposes. Some may contact you by phone, or interact with your booking system. Then there is the physical visit where the first touchpoint may be your car park entry, or the task to find the front door!

For ticketed venues, the ticket counter is an important touchpoint where various bits of business are transacted.

Museum Boijman van Beuningem, Rotterdam

Repeat visitors will probably have a routine guided by what they want to see. In contrast, first-time visitors want to know how best to spend their time – what is there to see/do, and where things are  located.

Once onsite, first impressions and first contacts set the tone of the whole visit. This concept has been widely adopted in retail, hospitality and tourism settings where staff are trained to greet every customer/guest with a smile and welcoming statement.

Without care, there is potential for important touchpoints to be less positive. In many museums and galleries visitors are left to 'self-manage' which can leave first-time visitors adrift. In some venues, the first contact may be with security personnel who focus more on compliance issues than enhancing visitor experiences. An instruction about backpacks is not a warm and friendly first personal touchpoint. 

Wayfinding signage and interpretive signs/devices are some of the most extensive touchpoints throughout museums and galleries that help to create the full richness of a visitor experience.

Some museums use functional touchpoints as interpretive devices in themselves.  At the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg visitors are allocated tickets saying either 'white' or 'non-white' and they enter through different doors. Once inside, 'whites' and 'non-whites' are kept apart for a short while before visiting groups can reunite.

Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg

What issues arise at your venue with respect to Visitor Touchpoints?

Contributed by Gillian Savage

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