A Loyalty Program Flying High
Loyal but confused travelers
Each year, millions of travelers fly United Airlines to reach more than 1,000 destinations in over 170 countries. Comprising 52 million members, United's "Mileage Plus" is the second-largest loyalty program in the industry.
With Mileage Plus representing significant profit potential for the airline, United had plans to expand its offerings. Customer feedback, however, showed that members found the program complex, inconsistent and hard to use. They didn’t feel special, and they didn’t understand all the benefits available to them. United needed to improve both its communications style and its method of information delivery.
A new flight plan
Through exhaustive research—including member and stakeholder interviews, competitive reviews and extensive audits of the many Mileage Plus communications channels and touchpoints—Siegel+Gale discovered that members were flummoxed by mixed messages and conflicting voices. Even worse, many touchpoints spoke to a "generic" member, regardless of the individual's actual preferences or program use. While Mileage Plus collected a lot of data on its members, it wasn't using that data intelligently, and there was no overarching communications strategy.
To provide a bird's-eye view of the desired member experience, Siegel+Gale created a "blueprint" that illustrated how Mileage Plus could align communications and interactions with members' needs and preferences. Our blueprint included a variety of examples illustrating how all touchpoints should support at least one of Mileage Plus' four strategic pillars (Show me, Encourage me, Help me and Recognize me), and how all channels could speak and behave in one voice. Finally, we mapped out a strategy for a sophisticated level of customization to reflect each member's specific status level.
To combat complexity, we simplified the program's nomenclature (in one instance, reducing 31 terms to just six), developed voice attributes and conducted training workshops to help employees and partner agencies communicate in a voice that is uniquely United. And for the most frequently used channel—MileagePlus.com—we created a completely new look and feel, offering a more personalized, intuitive member experience.
The new site encourages members to stay engaged by recognizing their achievements and giving them one-stop access to relevant information. An interactive tour on the homepage highlights the benefits of Mileage Plus membership and showcases the breadth of the program’s offerings.
The new MileagePlus.com has launched, with very positive feedback in initial usability testing and on popular blogs like Flyer Talk. The team at Mileage Plus is energized and confident that they can continue to speak to members in a more personal way. And no matter what medium delivers the message—from call center to kiosk to website to direct mail—the experience will be consistent, engaging and easy to understand.Download PDF