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How Airmiles used CRM to measure its marketing

How Airmiles used CRM to measure its marketing

Best practice from Confirmit


Airmiles, a subsidiary of British Airways, is much more than simply a loyalty program. Whilst miles represent the currency of the business, collection and redemption of Airmiles drive the business forward, with members redeeming miles via the telephone and on the Airmiles website.

The nature of the business means that it collects a wealth of data on its customers, both demographic and transactional, but Airmiles realised that if it could capture attitudinal data they would be able to measure customer satisfaction effectively and segment its customer base for use in outbound marketing.

Airmiles decided to integrate an Enterprise Feedback Management software platform into its business processes and by mapping out the customers' journey, the company gained a unique understanding of exactly when to solicit feedback. 

Integrating voice of the customer into the business processes

To improve business performance, the company needed to understand why customers who engage with Airmiles via each channel of communication fail to book. Its initial method of solving the problem was to treat it as a traditional market research exercise.

This meant outsourcing to an agency, sampling a small subset of customers and treating all information in an anonymous fashion. While this did provide some information that aided business planning, Airmiles worked with its agency, Aurora Market Research, to implement a program that incorporated the voice of the customer into the business processes, thereby adding another layer of value to the data already gathered.

“Members have an emotional tie to their miles and want to maximise their value,” says Dan Martin Head of Analysis and Research at Airmiles. “They have the option of using miles only, or miles plus cash. We needed to test the premise that confusion over the value of miles was affecting redemption.

“We suggested to our agency that we change our approach, making the survey request relevant to our customers by inviting them to tell us about their experience with us immediately after the event – when they were still thinking about it.”

Aurora’s Managing Director, Justin Alderson, added, “Making the survey more personal required a change in thinking from traditional market research. But the benefits of this were obvious.

“As individuals had consented to further contact following the initial process, we were able to escalate any dissatisfied customers to the Airmiles sales team who could reconnect with them to turn them around.” 

EFM and CRM?

The team deployed the Enterprise Feedback Management software platform Confirmit to solve the problem. In order to send survey requests the morning after the telephone or online contact, they integrated Confirmit with their Epiphany CRM platform.

This enabled the team to import transactional and demographic data about customers so that survey invitations could be personalised and that data could be correlated to opinion data in reporting. 

“This project is a classic example of the Confirmit Marketplace in action,” notes Gary Schwartz, VP Product Marketing for Confirmit.  “For online surveys to succeed, more is required than simply collecting data. In this case, Confirmit provided the leading technology and Aurora the domain expertise, all of which were utilised for AIRMILES’ benefit.”

The team created two alert systems:

· When any indication of dissatisfaction among those who didn’t book with Airmiles an alert was sent to call monitoring teams for follow up.   In some cases these alerts are sent as emails providing customers with feedback on their feedback - perhaps the strongest incentive for people to provide feedback - creating an ongoing dialogue.

· The second alert focused on those customers who booked either a flight or a hotel, but not both. Those who answered positively to questions indicating that they still needed the missing hotel or flight and that they were likely to book with Airmiles were similarly alerted to the sales team as warm leads.

“The integration with Epiphany meant that we could embed information about the customer – their personal details and destination information – within the survey, which helped drive a 35% response rate,” explains Martin.

“This means customer have a better experience during the survey as we don’t have to ask questions we already have the answers to. It also means that our sales people can re-contact customers with all the details to hand because they’re delivered within the alert.”

More relevant questions can be asked and trends identified

Another benefit with the shorter survey meant that Martin could add questions to help him understand what prompted a visit to the web site or a call to the call centre, allowing Airmiles to measure the performance of their marketing materials.

Other questions allowed Martin to find out whom their customers were using to book hotels and flights, if not with Airmiles.

Aurora’s Alderson adds that, “Ultimately we chose Confirmit because of its reporting capabilities. The alerting system let us escalate individual customers’ issues and Confirmit’s Reportal platform lets us aggregate the data so that we can see larger trends and issues that affect Airmiles’ business.”

These trends include perception of price competitiveness, perception of availability of products, such as flights and quality of service at both the call centre and web site. This dispelled the internally held assumption that availability was the key issue with failure to book, where price and perception of value for money is actually a more important issue.

Dan Martin says that: “We’ve made the results in Reportal visible to every team in the business, including pricing, marketing and finance. The dashboard reporting capability helps us to understand the competitive landscape.  But the greatest value is the correlation of the reasons that people didn’t book the product they came to book.

This dashboard correlates closely to KPIs that are visible to our senior management, and is seen as a leading indicator into our business performance. We think of these as Key Attitudinal Indicators (KAIs) that help us ensure that our Key Performance Indicators stay strong.”

One KPI that has been demonstrably enhanced due to this project is conversion rate of sales calls. The “warm leads” alert has produced a 32% conversion rate, leading to significant increases in revenue and bookings.

“The results clearly demonstrate the value of this approach,” maintains Alderson. “Whilst this will never replace traditional market research methodologies, there is a compelling need for this to sit alongside them.”

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