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There are many ways current and potential customers come into contact with a company. Known as “touchpoints,” these are interactions between businesses and people.

Anne Obarski

Properly recognizing, and understanding, key touchpoints can help improve a company’s chances of success, according to Anne Obarski, founder and CEO of Merchandise Concepts (

Obarski discussed “Customer Touchpoints — What You Need To Know About Delivering Consistent And Enviable Customer Service,” focusing her presentation on the importance of touchpoints.

She explained that: “Clients can stop doing business with a company due to one mistake, one blunt conversation or one slow response — and they may never tell you the reason. A ‘touchpoint score’ is the result of experiences people have as they interact with a company. Those ‘scores’ inevitably create a ‘report card’ in each person’s mind, about the company.”

Business owners/representatives, she added, should regularly “slip on the shoes of their customers,” and look at the ROI (return on investment) of specific programs that their companies have adopted, with the intention of better pleasing clients. That includes reviewing how a company is marketed, what products and services are being offered, and the performance of a company’s employees — those who strategically deliver a “contagious” experience, every day. All of that can influence and improve the touchpoint experience.

Obarski highlighted nine specific customer touchpoints, although, she added, there are many more possible. Of the nine, Obarski focused the most on: marketing and staff. The other seven touchpoints she listed, in no particular order, were: referrals/social group, office/store, billing/invoicing, phone, media, events and internet/social media.

“Those are nine ways people can come into contact with a business, even if business leaders don’t realize contact has actually been made,” she said. “As a business leader, it’s important to recognize the touchpoints within a company. Individual companies can have different touchpoints.”

According to Obarski, the “glue” that holds all customer touchpoints together includes the words: know, try, like, trust, buy, repeat and refer. She noted the latter word in that list, “refer,” as in “referral,” is critical to finding new customers. Getting a referral, however, is usually achieved only after an existing customer “knows, tries, likes, trusts, and buys” from that company, and then “repeats” the process again and again.


One popular touchpoint most companies experience with people involves “marketing.” She added there is a common belief that marketers don’t sell products anymore, they sell relationships.

“Start watching TV commercials. Are they building relationships? You bet,” Obarski said. “The three goals for marketing are: connect, build trust and create a loyal following.”

Obarski discussed the various mediums available for marketing purposes. She added a financial commitment should be made to the marketing process, regardless of how the message is being carried out.

“If a company wants to have an efficient marketing strategy, that company has to spend money. That does not change with social media,” Obarski said. “No matter how a plan is carried out, three main questions must be addressed, and hopefully answered, by a company’s marketing program.”

They are:
• Why should I care?
• What’s in it for me?
• Why should I believe you?

“Those are the legs of a three-legged marketing stool,” she said. “It’s important to focus on what customers are seeing, thinking, feeling and doing, as it pertains to a company’s marketing program.”

Obarski added that the four words — seeing, thinking, feeling and doing — show action, key to reaching out to people in the marketing process.

Obarski also discussed the importance of understanding a marketing program’s ROI, how to avoid a disconnect that can occur between marketing strategy and its execution, and the importance of conducting a SWOT analysis — focusing on “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.”


Hiring, training and retaining good employees is important for any company, especially as it relates to quality customer/staff interaction. In short, good employees provide an important touchpoint with customers. Keeping good employees is therefore critical, although not always easy.

For business owners, Obarski reiterated the importance of understanding proper employee motivation.

“Statistically, every third employee is looking for a new job, he/she just hasn’t told you, as the employer, yet. That is scary,” Obarski said. “It’s important those people conducting interviews know, and can convey to interviewees, five reasons great people would want to work in whatever industry involves your company.”

Once people are hired, company leadership is also critical to keeping good employees. Obarski added, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit leaders.”

In order to improve leadership, she suggested company representatives develop a list focusing on “10 reasons why great people should want to work for us.”

Obarski added that building a good workplace culture is critical — one that allows employees to feel truly appreciated. It’s also important to remember that when it comes to interaction between employees and customers, first impressions count. In short, employees “are the company.” Therefore, being able to retain quality people within a company’s workforce remains critical to pleasing customers. On the flip side, employees who are not good ambassadors can do a lot of harm, especially when it comes to customer interaction.

“How productive are your employees? How are they at making a good first impression? How are they at representing your company?” Obarski asked.

Answering such questions can help determine the ability of a company to provide a strong touchpoint with customers, as it relates to customer/employee interaction.

Obarski also discussed what she referred to as “necessary skills” employees need to develop.

They are:
• Listening;
• Being engaged;
• Being a problem solver; and,
• Being empowered.

With “listening,” Obarski stressed the importance of truly comprehending what a person has to say, not just trying to figure out what to talk about next. It’s also important to make proper eye contact with people, and show “that you truly care” when it comes to building — and maintaining — solid relationships.

Being engaged refers to the act of employees showing customers that they will truly follow through on described needs, rather than conveying an image of “the lights are on, but nobody is home.”

When it comes to building customer relationships, Obarski added, being a problem solver is also a necessity.

“Until customers know your employees are good problem solvers your business may remain stagnant,” Obarski said.

It’s also important employees are empowered.

“The last thing (a current or potential customer) wants to hear when asking a question is, ‘I really don’t know. I’m going to have to ask my boss,’” Obarski said.

Through proper hiring and training, employees can be empowered to develop strong touchpoints with customers, leading to greater customer service opportunities.

“If there is somebody in mind who you are thinking of promoting, don’t you want that person to be good in all four of those areas?” Obarski asked. “It’s also important to think about the best ways to develop new staff members. What is your company’s training program like? Do you have an employee handbook? As an owner or manager, do you spend time with employees as they work with customers? Is there a mentor program in place for employees?”

It’s also important to recognize the value of “emotional intelligence,” which Obarski said involves the act of managing and expressing emotions in a positive way.
She added that many of today’s business professionals feel the combination of “emotional intelligence” and “technical skills” is more important than IQ.

“Emotional intelligence can make you a better leader,” Obarski said.

Just as she did when discussing marketing’s influence on customer satisfaction, Obarski used the “seeing, thinking, feeling and doing” analogy to talk about employee development.

“When looking at your staff, what are you seeing, thinking, feeling and doing (about them)?” Obarski asked. “Also, when a client is working with one of your employees, is he/she thinking, ‘Where in the world did they hire that person?’”

Such analysis can lead to raising a company’s hiring standard. Obarski added the end-goal is to make more customers happy, which can often result in more referrals, leading to even more business.

And just as in marketing, conducting a SWOT analysis involving employees is beneficial, especially when looking for strengths and weaknesses.

“One of the biggest buzzwords in business right now is ‘transparency.’ It’s important to be transparent with employees and customers,” Obarski said. “As a business owner or manager, transparency means asking such questions as, ‘What are our weaknesses as a company? What am I not doing correctly as a boss?’

“Have coffee with some of your people and ask, ‘How could last week been better for you? How can I make this week better?’ Wouldn’t we all love to have a boss who asks those questions? In essence, (transparency) comes right back to you, as a leader.”

An advantage to having high-quality employees is that they allow company leaders to delegate more responsibilities, which helps those leaders find more time to seek out new business. Obarski also spoke on the benefits of a company operating as a “business of experience.”

“Many would say referring to holiday gift giving, ‘Don’t get me something I don’t need, but I would love an experience,’” she said.

Being a “business of experience” can improve customer touchpoints, including those involving service. That is opposite of a new term, found in different segments today, called skimpflation. It means, “Less service for the same price.”

“In today’s growing environment of skimpflation, what would it mean for a company to actually improve its customer service focus rather than reducing it? The answer, customers would be ‘over the moon,’” Obarski said.

She added that
subpar customer service is often the result of miscommunications and misunderstandings among employees.

“It doesn’t take much for an employee to mess up customer service, leading to bad reviews,” Obarski said. “It’s therefore imperative that the lines of communication are open and clear, especially if it involves voice mail, email, text and other non-face-to-face communication. It’s vital that those people in charge of employees make sure all communications are clear and everyone knows what is going on.”

Employees should also know they will be held accountable as it relates to their responsibilities. Accountability can be addressed during the hiring process and employee performance reviews.

Another important step in building a strong touchpoint is knowing how to handle a problem when a customer is upset — something that happens in all businesses. Again, this is where proper employee training can save the day.

“Depending on how well an employee takes care of that upset customer, it can lead to better relationships in the long run, and future business activity,” Obarski said.

She also shared five key words to use when people with unsolved issues contact a new (to them) business, looking for better results than what they received from another company. Those words are: feel, felt, found, fix and follow-up.

“It’s not uncommon for a business to receive a call from somebody who says, ‘I used to be a customer with another company, but they messed up, so I’m calling you for help,’” Obarski said. “A good way to respond to that person would be, ‘Oh Mr. Smith, I know exactly how you feel. I have felt that way to. This is what I have found that helps, and this is how we can fix the issue for you.’”

The process focuses again on emotional intelligence — managing and expressing emotions in a positive way.

follow-up is the last part of the process, but one many company leaders fail to properly do, although it’s very important,” Obarski said. “Call that person later in the day, or soon thereafter, and see how well the steps your company took have worked. The follow-up is extremely important.”


Although she highlighted nine customer touchpoints during her presentation, Obarski stressed the real number can be much higher, depending on the company.

“There may be some businesses that can identify 150 touchpoints or more,” she said. High touchpoint scores, Obarski added, greatly improve the chances of happier customers. The end-result is often repeat business and increased referrals. Understanding touchpoints also help company leaders better focus on ROIs and the overall quality of their customers’ experiences.

“How much is your company spending to make sure good customer experiences are taking place? How well do you know your customers? What are your customers seeing, thinking, feeling and doing, in regard to your company?” Obarski asked. “Those are all important questions that deserve special focus from company leaders and employees.”

From ACS Cleaning Products Group
Reduce The Risk Of Slipping With Gator Shoes

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Nexstep Announces Phone Number Change

Nexstep has announced a phone number change, and requests users to update records.
The change is effective Immediately. The new number is 1-800-322-5703.

• Contact Customer Service at Extension 1;
• Contact Russ Casto, customer service specialist for
assistance with new/existing orders and general inquiries; and.
• Contact Jeanie Teske, customer service manager for assistance with
orders delivered, backorder status and freight/product issues.

For more information, visit

The Child Safety Network Awards Intercon’s Blue Planet™ Hospital Grade Disinfectant The Safe Family Seal Of Approval

"The Safe Family Seal is provided because this fine product is the safest and most effective for the health and safety of all students and staff," CSN Chairman Ward E. Leber said. “When you see the Safe Family Seal of Approval you can trust that the Child Safety Network has determined that the health and safety of children are improved using the products or services that bear the Safe Family Seal.”

From Intercon Chemical Company
Introducing Blue Planet™ Hospital Grade Disinfectant Powered By Stabilized Hypochlorous Acid (S-HOCL™)

“Using our proprietary patented formula, our award winning, hospital grade disinfectant and food contact surface sanitizer is shelf stable for 18 months and leaves no chemical residue. Blue Planet™ Disinfectant is approved for use around children, pets, patients and even food contact surfaces,” said the company.

Some features include:
• Blue Planet Disinfectant Contains No Harmful Chemicals;
• Leaves No Chemical Residue;
• No Rinsing Or Wiping Required;
• Down To Saline After Use;
• Ready To Use — No Mixing Required;
• EPA List N;
• No PPE Required; And,
• 18-Month Shelf Life.

Blue Planet™ Disinfectant is now available exclusively through Intercon Chemical.

For more information on Blue Planet Disinfectant, visit, or email

From The Bullen Companies
Stock Up For Winter With Truekleen Liquid Ice Melt And Winterinse

“Both Truekleen winter products (Liquid Ice Melt and Winterinse) are designed to make winter easier and less of a mess. Liquid Ice Melt quickly and safely melts away snow and ice, while Winterinse gets rid of the messy white marks from typical ice melt which can be tracked into a home or business,” according to the company.

“Liquid Ice Melt is safe for all surfaces including concrete, asphalt, glass, and metal, and use on driveways, sidewalks, steps, railings, landings and outside entrance ways.

“Liquid Ice Melt will break up ice and packed snow in less than 20 minutes, making it easy to clean away with a broom, shovel or plow. It can also be used to remove ice and snow from cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles. It does not contain corrosive salts or toxic solvents.

“Winterinse will eliminate the white film from ice melt chemicals that are deposited at entrance ways and can be tracked over flooring and carpeting. Floors covered in typically-used ice melt can stay wet longer because the compounds are hydroscopic and hold water. Using Winterinse will reduce the risk of slips because it eliminates the ice melt film. Just mop on and mop off, it's that simple to use Winterinse. No need for scrubbing — it works like magic with one application.”

For more information, contact a Bullen sales representative, or email

New Plant Manager For The Bullen Companies

The Bullen Companies announces the addition of Phil Gansor as plant manager.

“Gansor brings to Bullen extensive experience in manufacturing having worked at Coca-Cola Bottling and Anheuser Busch. He has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University. Phil is perfectly suited to run the Bullen plant operations while also enhancing our quality control and dealing with supply chain issues,” according to the company.

For more information, contact a Bullen sales representative, or email

Spartan Chemical Promotes Justin Black To Chief Financial Officer

Spartan Chemical Company, a formulator and manufacturer of sustainable cleaning and sanitation solutions for the industrial and institutional market, has announced Justin Black has been promoted from treasurer and secretary to chief financial officer and secretary on Spartan Chemical’s board of directors.

Black began his career with Spartan in 2004, as controller, and he was promoted to treasurer and a member of Spartan’s board of directors in 2014. His recent promotion to CFO will have him continuing in the capacity of secretary on Spartan Chemical’s board of directors.

Prior to his employment at Spartan, he was an external auditor for Spartan through Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young for seven years. Black is a graduate of Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI, and he is a certified public accountant.

For more information, visit

Cascades Announces François David As Vice President Of Sales, Marketing And Innovation.

Cascades recently announced an addition to its North American leadership team. François David is stepping into the role of vice president of sales, marketing and innovation.

“This comes at a time when there is still much uncertainty around the world due to COVID-19, but Cascades remains dedicated to its customers, partners and the communities in which it operates. Innovative ideas and sustainable solutions are at the core of the corporation, and David has hit the ground running alongside his team,” according to the company.

For more information, visit

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