The concept of gamification has become part and parcel of everyday life. We enjoy playing games and being rewarded for our successes. Recognizing this trend, savvy organizations are introducing gamification techniques as an important part of their customer experience.
JetBlue is among these forward-thinking companies that are leveraging gamification to connect with customers. The airline's business leaders know that customers want to feel they're part of the brand and part of this journey means rewarding customers for their loyalty.
But while practically all airlines have a loyalty program, Jet Blue wanted to make sure its TrueBlue program was an inclusive one. "We wanted to steer away from being elitist because it goes against the JetBlue brand," explains Dave Canty, the airline's director of loyalty marketing. Instead, JetBlue's mission is to inspire humanity in air travel for every single customer, and this was one of the reasons why the airline recently removed conditions related to expiration of miles. The airline's business leaders were well aware that while a percentage of their customers were frequent flyers who racked up the miles, others traveled occasionally. "We don't want to forget the big chunk of customers who fly every now and then," Canty notes.
Last year, for example, JetBlue made an important step in ensuring that all customers could benefit from their frequent flyer miles when it introduced the TrueGiving initiative that allows customers to use their loyalty points to make charitable donations to their chosen causes. Apart from allowing customers to use their miles to do good, this initiative is also making sure that customers can use their miles, no matter how few or how many they have.
And earlier this year, JetBlue introduced another initiative called TrueBlue badges that turns its loyalty program into one that all customers and not just frequent flyers can get mileage from. The new initiative brings a layer of gamification to JetBlue's loyalty program by allowing travelers to collect points when they travel to multiple destinations and interact with JetBlue on social media.
As Canty notes, the TrueBlue Badges program aims to make the customer experience more interactive, allowing customers to engage with the brand and its partners throughout their lifecycle. For example, customers can earn points when they interact with JetBlue on the airline's Facebook and Twitter pages and can then share their point status with their friends. Further, the initiative brings an element of competition, bringing more fun into the experience through gamification.
In order to provide the best experience that would resonate with its customers, JetBlue went directly to the source to better understand what customers were looking for. Canty explains that while the airline was developing the new platform, it invited its 15,000-member online customer panel to take part in a 45-day beta. "We were able to use their feedback to make adjustments to the platform," Canty notes. For example, it was the online customer panel that came up with the idea of rewarding customers who shared information about JetBlue with their social network.
According to Canty, the introduction of TrueBlue Badges has had a significant impact on loyalty because of its inclusive element that allows every customer to participate. "Customers always felt they had a voice that was being heard by JetBlue, but this allows them to share badges with their networks and even get bragging rights," he notes.
On the other hand, JetBlue is benefitting from increased word-of-mouth marketing. "We have built word-of-mouth marketing into our overall customer experience strategy," Canty notes.