Wikipedia defines touch points as business jargon for any encounter where customers and business engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions.

Me? I define a touchpoint as that unique, special moment in time when you have the opportunity to make a super, uber, meaningful connection with another human being, be they friend, family, client or customer.

Let me give you a few examples.

You are a partner in an accounting firm smack in the middle of signing off on a financial statement which is due by 5 pm today. In walks one of your Senior Managers, asking if you have five minutes so he can (as he is jumping for joy) tell you about the new client he is about to sign on. Do you tell your employee you are too busy? Working on a deadline? Or do you stop what you are doing for a few minutes to congratulate him, tell him how excited you are, and that you want to sit down with him as soon as you finish your project? If it is the latter response, you have just experienced a touchpoint with your employee. Taking that extra minute or two for the “attaboy (or girl)” pays dividends in employee loyalty and engagement, over the long haul.

These potential opportunities occur in every day life as well. Recently I was on a flight to Denver when I recognized the flight attendant in my cabin. Darnelle! I exclaimed. Is that you? She couldn’t believe I remembered her from a previous trip. Next thing I knew, she was offering me complimentary drinks and food, and I was signing my newest book, my gift to her for her thoughtfulness. Just like the partner in the accounting firm and his manager, I had experienced a touchpoint with Darnelle.

The moral of the story? Touchpoints are the fleeting moments which become opportunities to show someone that they are important; they are the emotional moments we are presented with, to comfort or compliment someone who has just experienced pain or joy in their life; and they are the meaningful, small ways in which we demonstrate how we understand our customers and clients, how we value our family and friends, and how we touch others and let them know that they are special.

Next time you are presented with a touchpoint, take an extra minute or two to recognize it. You might be just be surprised at the connection you can make, and the outcome you derive.

Tell me about the last touchpoint you experienced, and how it made YOU feel!