By Joseph Spurlock, responsible for supporting Xerox’s customer care strategy for large travel/hospitality clients.

Jane’s in charge of booking a family vacation this year, and decides to call a travel company to sort through all the options. Although she doesn’t quite know it (yet), she will make contact with the agency multiple times with questions about cost, availability, the amount of luggage allowed as well as necessary documentation such as passports and visas. When her mother decides to join the fun, she calls again to confirm dinner reservations.

When Jane is asked to provide feedback on her experience – which touch point will she use?

Will she rate her experience by one particular contact with the brand – when she booked the trip, or called back to confirm reservations? Not likely. Perception of the brand comes from the entire journey, according to this McKinsey article. That’s why it’s critical to have a customer care strategy that contemplates each stop on the journey as an opportunity to contribute to an overall five-star experience.

The free movement of customers
This eBook from Xerox presents a six-point plan to help you rethink the customer experience you offer. It will help you avoid the risks, and grasp the opportunities in an omni-channel world.

Here’s how that experience can work:

As soon as Jane makes a payment, a history is created with all of her information.

Each time Jane calls or is contacted by the company, the agent recognizes her and has her information on the screen – her itinerary, the special arrangements she made, her dietary preferences, and more  — so Jane never has to give information more than once.

One of our clients is a global brand that services travelers from around the world. Working together, we’ve made the customer journey – like the brand promise – consistent and reliable. Here are some lessons we’ve learned along the way:

Make it an easy, but personal road to travel: Jane is just one of many customers on a similar journey, but with personal requirements. Her brand experience should be consistent, even standardized, from the initial call, to the way her concerns before or during the trip are handled, to collecting her feedback upon her return. And yet, as a U.S. customer, Jane’s requirements from a language, cultural and even business exchange perspective are likely very different from a customer calling from Germany or Brazil.

We capture consistency across borders by standardizing and measuring the quality, performance and empathy for the customer at every at every interaction. But by appointing one point of contact for each regional call center, companies can also ensure the flexibility to allow for cultural differences and more personalized service.

Put your feet in the same sand: We encourage agents to immerse themselves in the same travel experiences they are handling for customers, and report back so we can all better relate to the customers calling in. Walking on the ship, flying on the plane, renting the car, staying at the hotel: That anecdotal experience is critical, if it’s possible.

When it’s not possible, collecting, analyzing and reporting customer feedback is paramount. Our teams report feedback daily and analyze it monthly to identify trends and create action plans. Performing data analytics can provide a clear view of what matters to customers. Can the new customer onboarding process be streamlined? Would customers prefer to use different communications channels? Are there reoccurring issues, the root causes of which should be addressed?  Do products or services fail to meet customer expectations?

Be a super (travel) agent, powered by technology: The customer journey, like all journeys, is all about making connections. Technology is key to finding and quickly making those connections. Agents are more helpful and more knowledgeable when they have access to automation technology that helps them pinpoint customer issues sooner and find answers faster.

Automated self-service solutions are growing more popular with customers and they make it easier to get answers to routine questions. For more complex inquiries, people appreciate an agent who can quickly navigate their requirements. Using smart automated systems that learn from every customer interaction (call, chat or email), our agents have access to precise algorithms and technology to streamline the customer service process. As a bonus, the combination of robotic and human touch points lowers call center cost while improving customer satisfaction overall.

When companies begin to manage the customer experience as a journey, silos that separate call centers from other parts of the business fall away. Call centers are your frontline assets and they generate valuable data to help create the sense that your agents are traveling with your customer on his or her personal journey – fulfilling their brand promise, all while making operations more efficient.