The common frustrations of travelers point the way ahead towards frictionless customer journeys

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Chanade Murphy-Johnson is commercial lead at 383.

When travelling, whether it be for business or pleasure, there are tonnes of brands that we interact with and the quality of the experience differs massively. Today, more and more organisations are adapting to changes in customers’ expectations, technology and access to data, while others are simply doing nothing. This may not seem like an issue to business executives right now because share price is spot on, but in the near future they face severe consequences.

I’ve noticed you around

I was staying at a hotel that I’ve stayed at three times in the last two months, and I’ve also stayed at other hotels in the group on a number of occasions, yet every time I check-in I get asked the same question: “Is this your first time with us?”. It’s not difficult for an organisation to know the answer to this; in fact, given we’re in 2016,there’s no excuse for this to happen. Whereas, there’s another hotel I stay at and they have nailed this. Every time I stay there, I get a lovely warm welcome and in my room there’s always an envelope on the bed with a personally written welcome note from one of the leadership team. Simple things like this make all the difference.

This doesn’t cause me as much frustration as money though.

Show me the money

Like many people, I also forget to get currency sorted until shortly before I travel. Then, I’m left with the choice of getting ripped off at the airport or leaving it until I get to my destination. But where will I be able to change my money when I get there? How much is my bank going to charge me for using my card? Will my card be blocked abroad?

Welcome to 2016. Don’t worry about the transport, get yourself an Uber when you land at the airport, and currency, well, don’t worry about that either, as there is now a great solution called Supercard.

I no longer think of Travelex as the expensive, last minute resort for foreign exchange at the airport ,  I see them as an organisation that’s taken a big step to transform the way people experience them. They’ve hired a new team that has only just scratched the surface but, within 18 months, they have launched new experiences that have a genuine purpose and are relevant to today’s traveller. I’ll be using Supercard this summer and I can’t wait (I’m planning on writing about my experience, so check back soon).

There’s a lot to be said about paper money and people like Travelex have explored new ways to transfer money between people and businesses, yet travel journey providers such as train operators and airlines haven’t quite fixed this.

A little less paper, a little more ease, please

I’m stood at the machine entering my reference code that’s hidden away in an email in my booking confirmation folder, and I dread this from the moment I leave the house  -  will I have enough time to print my tickets? This is such a painful experience. What if it was as easy as buying something on Amazon with 1-Click?

Then, you’re walking down to the platform with no idea where coach E will end up being on the platform, so you try to strategically figure out which direction you’re going to take. Imagine having your ticket in your Wallet and it prompts roughly where you should head to on the platform. Add to that the fact that ticket barriers often fail, creating even more friction.

It amazes me that there isn’t a solid alternative to paper tickets. Paper tickets cause unnecessary frictions for people and cost a considerable amount to buy/print.

I flew with Ryanair earlier this year and although I had to download their app to get my boarding pass into Wallet, it was a much easier experience and far better than what most airlines have in place at the moment. It’s so much easier than having to take out your boarding pass at the security barriers along with your passport that you don’t actually need at that moment in time.

By reducing friction points it makes our experience a lot easier and we can spend more time making memories and less time figuring out what we need to do.

Where do we go from here?

So I’m in San Diego; we’re planning our trip up to San Francisco and we decide that we’re going to hire a car. This, I should point out, was a few years ago. We were students living the dream, so unfortunately we couldn’t afford to go for a Mustang and ended up with a little Chevy, but it did the job! However looking back, the experience we had with the car rental company was very transactional. We told them where we’d be dropping off the car, when we’d do that, signed a form, paid and headed out onto the open road.

There’s an opportunity to provide a much more useful experience throughout your trip and not just when you take out and return the vehicle they’ve just rented to you. Imagine if they had provided us with a tool that told us about the places along the way, where to stop off, handy tips, and enabled us to book accommodation through it? That’s not only a much more useful experience for us but a revenue stream for them (should we book accommodation with one of their partner companies).

Think about the experience your customers have today, go and experience it for yourself. Where do friction points and anxieties exist?

You’ll find small things you can fix quickly through internal process change, but there will also be opportunities whereby introducing a digital experience will dramatically improve things not only for customers but for the organisation too. This could be a simpler way of doing things, access to more useful information, brand perception, C-sat, NPS or revenue, etc.

There’s so much choice for today’s consumer and that means that often loyalty doesn’t play a big part anymore, but if you provide a better experience you’ll build stronger relationships with people, and guess what, they’ll come back. Advertising isn’t as powerful as it once was. ‘Experience’ is far more powerful, and it’s what people talk about.

Chanade Murphy-Johnson is commercial lead of digital experience agency 383

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