Using Journeys to Differentiate

Identifying the journeys that matter most can be beneficial even when companies don’t have a nagging customer service problem – the effort can help them find a competitive differentiator. One car rental agency wanted to improve its already good service and distinguish itself from its competitors in light of the increasingly commoditized nature of the industry. Its investigation into what mattered to customers highlighted the airport pickup, a journey that might take less than an hour but that crossed a half-dozen or more touchpoints. The most important aspect was the end-to-end speed of service, from bus to rental counter to car to exit gate—but no one person owned that issue.

By focusing cross-functionally on delivering speed at the airport pickup, the company was able to innovate in ways that helped set it apart: It introduced more flexibility in car selection, developed technology to help customers manage their reservations from mobile devices, and installed virtual customer service kiosks at high-volume locations to give people the option of skipping the line but still working with a live agent. It also pushed hard to shift the emphasis from “cars available” to “the right car for the right customer at the right time.” These efforts provided a real opportunity to differentiate not just the service experience but the brand itself.

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