Alaska Airlines has one of the most popular frequent flyer programs in the travel world, but when it embarked on an initiative to improve these systems and take even greater care of its customers, it encountered some obstacles. “Before we engaged Point B, the project had stalled; we did not have a workable plan,” said Kris Kutchera, Vice President, Information Technology and Strategy Management for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. “This was causing friction between teams that needed to work together—between IT and marketing leadership, between consultants and employees, and between the infrastructure and applications people within IT.”
Creating conditions for success
Replacing the airline’s vintage-1980s frequent flyer system with a fast, flexible Siebel solution called for a massive system migration with more than 20 interfaces to internal and partner systems. Everything was new—from the technology, tools and testing to the collaboration required by more than 40 internal and external team members. Point B began by getting to know the groups, understanding their issues and goals and creating clarity and agreement on the project scope. Within a month, we had developed a detailed approach and facilitated buy-in from all parties on the path to execution.
“Point B gained everyone’s trust,” said Kutchera. “They were great listeners and facilitators. They asked questions that made people think differently to solve problems. And they pulled the right people together to get things done. Once the plan had everyone’s support, they went on to lead an extremely smooth implementation.”
Responding to customers and improving loyalty
With Alaska Airlines’ new frequent flyer system online, marketing promotions that once took six weeks to deploy now happen in 30 minutes—dramatically improving the airline’s ability to respond to customers and compete in a fast-changing marketplace. The new system has reduced new-hire user training from four weeks to just four days. And as non-mileage program customers are entered into this central repository, Alaska Airlines will be leveraging a whole new level of customer intelligence and communications going forward. As Ardizzone said, “We didn’t just change our frequent flyer system. We transformed our business.”