When the American Automobile Association (AAA) was founded in 1902, the organization's 1,500 members were largely satisfied with maps and car repairs. Today's AAA member expects much more. The AAA motor clubs now serve 55 million members and offer numerous travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.
1to1 Media caught up with Daniel Mathieux, director of marketing insights and e-business at AAA National, a 2013 Gartner & 1to1 Media Customer Experience Excellence winner, to discuss the organization's efforts to streamline its member data across various categories and provide more relevant customer experiences.
1to1 Media: What challenges does AAA face in engaging its members?
Daniel Mathieux: AAA is 55 million members strong. But many people don't realize that there isn't one large AAA entity that has 55 million members; we're a federation of clubs. The members really belong to the club organizations. The group I'm part of, AAA National, was created a few years ago. Our role is to help the clubs better understand their members and build relevancy within their member relationships.
However, helping the clubs understand who their members are is becoming more complex. It's not enough to have basic information likes names and addresses; marketers also need to know what lifestyles their members lead, how they are interacting with AAA today, and how they can further help them. One of the challenges we have is that since AAA is a group of companies, the business rules that drive those companies varies drastically.
How did you align member data across the different AAA clubs?
DM: Most of the clubs today use a platform that was created by AAA National to manage things like roadside assistance. For example, if someone calls us and says they need a tow truck or a jumpstart, there's a process for collecting information, triaging the situation, and then sending someone to help that member. But before that, all the clubs did it differently.
We have 45 separate entities and each club had its own homegrown platforms but we realized that wasn't sustainable. And so about seven years ago, we brought in RedPoint Global to help us become experts in aligning data across business units and channels.
For us to streamline our roadside assistance, AAA National had to take all this data together, mesh it together and normalize it to make it usable. We developed a data alignment platform that we've invested millions of dollars over the years that allows us to look at the data, align it, and quickly put it into a useable format for an end user.
Today we're managing billions of records and doing that across road service, travel, insurance, membership, discounts, phone center, mail centers, web, and mobile. For example, we'll align records and apply it to an analytics platform so that a club can use the data to do campaign management or pump it into a server for another club's technology to pick up for email marketing, or it may go into a CRM platform.
Do all the clubs use the data management platform that AAA National built?
DM: No, we're an optional service for the clubs. But we work with almost all of them. Our work with RedPoint Global benefits about 90 percent of the clubs. And because of our clubs' diversity, our data management technology integrates into a lot of platforms. For instance, we're partners with Salesforce and we have several analytics platforms at AAA National, but many clubs have their own analytics or CRM platforms.
What types of insights have you received by streamlining the clubs' member data?
DM: One of the things we've learned is that the number of relationships someone has with AAA is directly related to their desire to renew their membership. And so, we know that if we can move new members from just purchasing a membership to utilizing our products, their likelihood of leaving AAA is greatly reduced.
And by aligning all this data together, we can better understand when someone is at risk of leaving, such as because they haven't used our service for a long time. Our clubs can now look at the likelihood of a member to leave, the value of that membership, and the tactics they should use to intervene.
What else are you working on to improve the member experience?
DM: Our next step is to manage billions of records in a real-time fashion so that we can look at interactions with customer and put them on a journey or conversation that better engages them. For example, we know someone on the road service side has a battery failure and asks for a jumpstart. Few people know that we sell batteries though. But if we can set an automatic trigger to send an email or have an agent recommend getting a new battery within the same hour of the service call when the issue is still fresh, response rates will triple. We're working on doing similar things for our products that would allow us to have even more relevant conversations with our customers.