Customer journey: Touchpoints vs channels

By Anders Björklund

Customer journey: Touchpoints vs channels

Touchpoints and channels are crucial elements of customer journeys, and they tend to get mixed up during the mapping phase. In the article, I explain the difference between them and settle this critical issue.


A touchpoint is an interaction between potential and existing customers and your product, service, solution or business. For example, a touchpoint could be a visit to your knowledge hub or website, a question sent through your live chat or social media page, or a phone call to your customer service department. For example, if your customers find out something about a product, sign up for your newsletter, give feedback or buy something, they do this by touching your company and business. And that's why they're called touchpoints.

The main task when mapping your customer journey is finding and mapping out all possible touchpoints. It's the touchpoints that provide the lowest-quality experience that define the customer's experience and the overall level of satisfaction they will have at the end of their buying journey.

Here are some examples of typical touchpoints:

  • Product demo
  • Help & support interaction
  • Checkout form
  • Booking a table
  • Giving feedback about one's experience
  • Collecting information about a service
  • Warranty return
  • Signing up for an online service


A channel is a communication medium between your company and its potential and existing customers. It is the environment in which touchpoints occur. For example, a channel could be a website or the phone a prospect or an existing customer uses when calling customer support. Some channels, such as live chat tools, phone calls, and social media pages, are interactive, allowing your customer to respond and interact with your company. Other channels, typically offline ones, are not interactive - like analogue brochures and flyers. 

Here are a few examples of channels:

  • Forums
  • Phone calls
  • Targeted ads
  • Face-to-face communication (online or physically)
  • Mobile apps
  • Social networks
  • Live chat tools
  • Talking to colleagues or friends

The difference between touchpoints and channels

You can think of the difference between touchpoints and channels in the following way. A touchpoint happens when a potential or existing customer has a specific need, like registering on a website, signing up, finding a product or making a payment. A channel is a means a company provides to meet this customer need, like a registration or contact form, a product directory, or an eCommerce site.

While the same touchpoint might happen across different channels, some channels only support a particular set of touchpoints. For example, a potential or existing customer could use your desktop website to make a payment for a recent order. At the same time, the customer could also use their phone to make the payment and call your support team to discuss delivery options.

Not all channels can provide good support for a specific touchpoint. For example, most of your potential and existing customers will only be able to call you via their desktop. So if you need more resources to provide an equal level of support across all your channels, you should focus on the most common and easily-supportable options to keep the customer experience consistent. Please keep this in mind when you design your customer journey.

If you're interested in diving further into your customer journey, look at our detailed guide. And remember to download our free customer journey map template below once you're ready to start assessing and improving the journey people take when they do business with your company.

Get the free customer journey map template

Get the free customer journey map template

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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