In my last post, I introduced the idea of customer experience micro-engagements—targeted, highly personalized interactions—and how persona-driven strategies would soon evolve to those that reflect person-based actions, as users continue to demand the information most relevant to their own needs.
To recap, I had recently signed up for United’s frequent flyer Status Match program and was surprised at the seeming lack of effort to engage me—which indicated a surprising lack of awareness. The three-month period that followed enrollment would've been the ideal time to deliver a targeted message and capitalize on a significant opportunity to win my business, yet there was nothing perceptively different from my everyday travel. That post ended with a promise to offer some thoughts about what United Airlines could have done differently for me, using this more personalized approach.
So, I’m back with some suggestions on how an airline could improve customer experience through personalized micro-engagements.
What if …
They sent an email before my first flight with travel and traffic information from my house to the airport. I probably have an idea about this, but saying “we want to do everything we can to make your travel go smoothly”—and doing something to prove it—helps me believe they mean it. (Bonus: A pre-filled Uber link, with a $10 discount.)
The flight attendants knew my name and welcomed me to flying on United. (Bonus: Offering a complimentary beverage or snack selection on my first flight under the match.)
The loyalty experience was gamified with an online dashboard tallying up points for my different activities/milestones, promoting a program completion "You Did It!" reward. (Bonus: In-game bonuses like a Starbucks coffee voucher for flying before 6am.)
Encourage my feedback and ask questions by providing at least one channel, ideally a phone number with a live operator, dedicated to fielding my concerns and helping me navigate the new landscape. (Bonus: Earning 500 miles by filling out a post-call survey.)
An easy to understand, side-by-side comparison of the points and benefits I accrued last year on American versus what they would have been on United. (Bonus: Identifying ways to maximize my earnings on United.)
Granted, these hypotheticals might seem ambitious. But keep in mind, this is The Age of the Customer. It only took one company (Zappos) to change how an entire industry feels about free return shipping.
If you want to see an existing comprehensive customer journey built on personalized micro-engagements, check out what Disney World is doing with their MagicBand. Disney’s MagicBand is a wristband any guest can use to customize and streamline their Disney World experience. From the most basic functions (e.g., walletless purchasing, keyless hotel entry) to the most complex (e.g., managing VIP access to preselected rides, unlocking personalized surprises such as speaking pictures), it all happens via a playful, colorful wristband. In this way, the park attendees’ entire journey is interwoven with specific micro-engagements that could allow Disney to offer a personalized experience for each of its 52,000 daily visitors. It’s even more incredible when you consider how many different systems need to interact in order to make this work.
There's no doubt that realizing this kind of goal anytime soon, if ever, is a daunting proposition. But that's not to say we shouldn’t start—and as always, start small. Find meaningful opportunities to deliver customer experiences that stand out on an individual level. Is every email addressed personally? Do serious issues automatically trigger a phone call to follow-up? Is there a viable avenue to solicit individual feedback from your audience?
Even if those goals seem daunting, think of Baskin-Robbins and their Birthday Club. As a child, I’d eagerly await my card from Baskin-Robbins every March, as they would celebrate my birthday with a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream. More than simply free ice cream, the whole experience felt personal. It isn't complex, and it's been working for over 40 years.
Where are you seeing signs of personalized engagements? What are some of the challenges you face, and what are some solutions you’re working on? I hope these ideas resonate with you, and I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks for reading!