Today, travel isn’t just a journey that involves planes, trains and automobiles but rather one that involves navigating through websites, apps and search engines.

In a 24/7 digital world, the customer’s journey must be as seamless across online channels as it is in person.

Customers assume that their bags will be transferred when they connect flights, and expect their digital journey to be just as smooth. Customers expect things to be easy — in fact, BT’s recent ‘autonomous customer’ research shows that factors such as convenience and ease are often bigger drivers than price in our choices.

Airlines have skilfully shaped autonomous customers. Customers do the booking, ticketing and check-in there selves. All this assumes that the customer’s destination is clear and there is no turbulence in the system. Even autonomous customers need a pilot to get them to their digital destination sometimes.

When booking online 84 percent of U.S. customers still want the reassurance of a phone number or chat button rather than having to plough through the FAQs. Yet, many organizations love to hide their contact details deep in the frozen wastes of their website. Even worse, apps are often lacking any type of call function (62 percent of U.S. customers would like customer service to be embedded in apps).

Fasten your seatbelts when things go really wrong, though. Snowmageddon, strikes or systems failures inevitably happen, and delayed, grumpy travelers armed with smart phones and social media want answers NOW! As one customer in BT’s ‘Serving the Social Customer’ research observed: “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They expect you to fix things when they go wrong”.

Problems tend to occur if the connectedness of customers exceeds that of customer service agents at the airport or in the contact center. Another ‘social customer’ sums this situation up well: “Flight delayed by five hours. Google knows more than airport staff, who don’t seem to know much…” Saying sorry isn’t good enough. Customers want to know where the emergency exits are.

This tsunami of demand tends to place incredible pressures on fixed resources like contact centers or customer services at the airport. This is why it’s very desirable to be able to flex up (and down) a network of ‘super agents’ across the world, using technologies like cloud. Proactive and personalized contact — from hash tags on Twitter to personalized video — can also be used to help manage demand and keep customers (as well as front line employees) informed.

Social, local and mobile customers leave a vapor trail of data that they are willing to share if it makes their journey easier. More than half of us would trade our location data and 44 percent our social media profile, if we think it will help smooth our path. This ‘ego system’ (forms a radar pattern of behaviors that give airlines the opportunity to offer a unique, connected digital flight path that mirrors the one in the real world.

In the eyes of the customer – It’s ultimately all about ME. It’s MY journey — so make things personal to ME. Get ME to MY destination, make it easy for ME, tell ME if things are going wrong. In a proactive, connected world, the ‘omni-channel customer’ experience becomes that much more difficult for companies to deliver.