ARC wanted to drive growth by signing up customers from a wider range of industries. How could it ensure that its marketing efforts were delivering the best results?
ARC uses customer experience analytics to see how prospects hop between its marketing emails, landing pages and website, enabling it to design seamless, compelling journeys online and on mobile.
ShowsARC how customers hop between channels, helping to identify sticking points
EnablesARC to design seamless, compelling journeys to drive sign-up for its services
Drivesgrowth by enabling ARC to reach out to customers in a broader range of industries
Business challenge story
Targeting new opportunities for growth
To drive growth in a tough economic climate, many leading enterprises are looking for opportunities to expand into new markets. Success often hinges on how clearly businesses communicate the value of their offerings—and compelling, targeted marketing campaigns are a powerful way to win new customers.
This was the goal at ARC, the leading supplier of air travel intelligence and commerce services in the United States.
Michael Tarajos, Enterprise Technical Solutions Engineer at Airlines Reporting Corporation, takes up the story: “ARC processes virtually all travel transactions in the United States, and our customers include 9,400 travel agencies that connect to our transactional systems via a web-based portal. This enables us to complete the necessary payment-card processing, billing and fraud detection processes on their behalf.
“Growth is a key aspect of our long-term strategy. In addition to expanding our customer base by signing up more travel agencies and carriers, we want to harness our massive volumes of travel and tourism data to bring air travel intelligence services to other industries.”
He continues, “These potential customers include airports and financial services companies, as well as corporate travel in a range of other sectors. We are designing analytic products to help answer questions such as: ‘Are we purchasing travel effectively as an organization?’, ‘What is the best time to purchase travel to obtain the best fare?’ and ‘How can we optimize our travel policies to reduce costs?’.”
With its target market set to grow rapidly, ARC looked for a way to articulate the value of its services.
“As our business goals have grown, our marketing requirements have grown with them,” continues Tarajos. “We have long recognized the benefit of targeted digital marketing to reach customers and drive conversion. We wanted to ensure that we were reaching out to potential customers with the right message at the right time, and giving them information and inspiration to sign up.
“For a number of years, we have used IBM Watson Campaign Automation to build finely targeted, event-based email campaigns, IBM Digital Analytics to see when prospects receive, open and interact with our messages, and IBM Tealeaf® CX to capture and replay real-world customer browsing sessions on our sites. However, we had no straightforward way of connecting these sources of information to form a coherent view of individual customer journeys,” said Tarajos.
“To ensure our marketing efforts were effective, we also wanted to see what was happening during each step of the customer journey—for example, if customers were having trouble navigating our site, finding information or signing up for our services. To achieve this goal, we looked for a way to gain deeper insights into the customer experience.”
Gaining deep insight into customer journeys
To help drive into new markets, ARC is developing a fully integrated marketing process, supported end-to-end by IBM Universal Behavior Exchange and Watson Customer Experience Analytics.
“When we first discovered Universal Behavior Exchange, we immediately recognized it was the missing ingredient we’d been looking for to complete our customer analytics process,” recalls Tarajos. “Universal Behavior Exchange translates customer data from multiple source systems into a shared language and combines it into a single view of the customer journey.
“By passing this data into the Watson Customer Experience Analytics platform, we can automatically map out customer journeys from beginning to end—even when people switch back and forth between channels. This means that we can see that a customer started by opening one of our emails on a tablet device, looked at the same information on our desktop site the next day, and then browsed the campaign landing page and signed up for the service on a mobile device the day after that.”
He continues: “These kinds of insights are crucial to build compelling campaigns. For example, if we map out the typical journey for a campaign and notice that many customers only sign up after reading a page that we hadn’t anticipated would an important factor in their decision-making process, we can refine the campaign landing page to include the missing information and optimize their journey.”
ARC’s new approach feeds in data from on-premises systems and cloud-based services to deliver a rich view of customer interactions across all channels.
“We can drill down into individual customer browsing sessions at any point in their journey to uncover sticking points—whether they are using a web application we host on premises or in the cloud,” explains Tarajos. “Better still, we can incorporate data from our customer relationship management [CRM] system to see at which points in the journey customers called our helpdesk or placed a sales order. By integrating all our marketing systems and processes in this way, we ensure that there are no blind spots when it comes to understanding the customer journey.”
Soaring into new markets
ARC is now embracing customer experience analytics to design more compelling journeys online and on mobile—helping it to inspire and onboard customers from a wider range of industries than ever.
“In the past, it would have taken us weeks of painstaking manual work to stitch together data on individual customer sessions to form a coherent view of their end-to-end journey through one of our campaigns,” comments Tarajos. “Today, Universal Behavior Exchange helps us analyze data from our website, digital marketing platform and CRM system in real time to see customer journeys as they unfold.
“Our marketers can now identify potential sticking points in a journey, and replay real-world customer sessions in IBM Tealeaf CX to quickly uncover what the issues might be. One thing we have already discovered is that our customers are browsing on tablet devices far more than we assumed, which helps us prioritize experience improvements on the mobile channel.”
With customer experience analytics insights driving its marketing strategy, ARC is well placed to deliver tailored content to encourage prospects to sign up.
“One of the most important things we’ve learned is that however you imagine people are using your website, it is completely different from the way they’re actually using it,” adds Tarajos. “For example, we used Watson Customer Experience Analytics to design three different journeys based on the size of the travel agency customers we work with. If we reach out to a smaller agency in a targeted marketing campaign, we can see if they end up following the path we intended, or if they choose another route instead. These insights are essential, because they help us to design journeys that work in the real world.”
He concludes: “Our work with customer experience analytics is just beginning, but we firmly believe that we will uncover a great deal of valuable information about how our customers and prospects engage with our brand. Winning new customers depends on crystal clear communications—and we have all the insights we need to refine our approach to marketing.”
About Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC)
The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) is the premier driver of air travel intelligence and commerce in the travel industry with leading business solutions, travel agency accreditation services, process and financial management tools, and high-quality data. In 2015, ARC settled $88.3 billion worth of carrier ticket transactions for more than 9,400 travel agencies with 13,000 points of sale. Established in 1984, ARC is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, with offices in Kentucky, Florida and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.twitter.com/ARCtalk.
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