Mobile growthNovember 19, 2019

mParticle and JetBlue: Improving real-time customer experience on the fly

Learn how JetBlue uses mParticle to understand how customers experience the app on an individual basis, identify points of friction that affect customers' satisfaction, and test and deploy tools efficiently without adding third-party code that could impact end-user functionality.

Since its first flight in 2000, JetBlue was founded on the principle of “inspire humanity” by offering its customers the best flight experience possible. JetBlue operates more than 1,000 flights daily to over 100 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin American and has a deeply loyal customer base. This focus on bringing back humanity to air travel is the core of JetBlue's customer-centricity, from support services to the inflight experience and even to the development of their mobile application.

The JetBlue mobile app allows busy travelers to access their account and flight information, check-in, and book or change additional flights and services, among many other services, where and when they need it most. But, when the app launched, the mobile team wasn't able to easily collect and connect the massive amounts of new customer interactions to their existing tech stack and data infrastructure. Without a way to collect, organize, and aggregate all of this siloed data, the JetBlue mobile team didn't have a reliable way to:

  • Understand how customers experienced the app on an individual basis
  • Identify points of friction that affected customers' satisfaction
  • Test and deploy tools efficiently without adding third-party code that could impact end-user functionality

To meet the increasing amounts of customer interactions within the app and better collect and connect their siloed tech stack and data infrastructure, JetBlue used a customer data platform as the foundation for a stack capable of delivering the best level of customer experience possible through their app. Using mParticle, JetBlue was able to:

  • Centralize their data infrastructure to get a better understanding of how customers use the app and identify areas of improvement.
  • Democratize data through an easy-to-use customer data layer UI, so every stakeholder could access the data they need to move initiatives forward without relying on engineering. 
  • Easily test and integrate tools to better serve their customers without adding unnecessary third-party code that could cause latency or crashes.
  • Improve retention and customer experience through personalization fueled by persistent customer profiles and robust identity resolution capabilities.

Challenges

The biggest challenge facing the JetBlue mobile team was that their legacy architecture just wasn’t made for mobile; and it didn’t provide them with the agility and flexibility needed for the team to pinpoint issues and act on these insights to improve the mobile app experience. For the JetBlue mobile team, the siloed and disconnected nature of their customer data meant that there was no comprehensive view of their customers, how they used the app and how that related to their actions on-web, and no way to act on that insight in real time to improve customers’ experiences. Ideally, the mobile team wanted as much clean, concise, and rich data context as possible around customer’s movements in the funnel so they could recreate scenarios and fix specific customer issues reliably. The legacy DMP provided them with a centralized database of customer data but it was largely anonymized and the scale at which they needed to use it meant that their usage fees were quickly becoming unwieldy. 

The inaccessibility of customer data also rippled out to other parts of the JetBlue organization; without a way to easily access customer data from web and mobile, the marketing and analytics teams had to go back and forth with engineering to try and pull the right data every time they considered creating a new segment or wanted to see who was using different capabilities, for example. The JetBlue mobile team was often inundated with requests to add additional SDKs into the app in an attempt to forward customer data to tools, which then caused delays in the app release cycles and de-prioritized customer-facing problems to accommodate internal needs. All of these issues led the JetBlue mobile team to think that there had to be a better way.

Building the right tech stack

Before mParticle, the JetBlue app relied on legacy platforms that weren’t capable of collecting all of the mobile data being produced and of sharing that data in a standardized way to other tools for analysis and engagement. Using mParticle’s SDK as the base of their new mobile architecture, JetBlue built a stack comprised of best-in-breed solutions including:

  • Appdynamics for app performance management 
  • Apptentive for user engagement monitoring
  • Firebase for deeplinking
  • Facebook for advertising
  • Gladly for modern customer service tracking and activation in-air

With a flexible, extensible, mobile-first stack and a comprehensive database of clean customer data in place, the JetBlue mobile team was prepared to add new functionality, market more efficiently, and deliver the caliber of customer experiences through the app the company is known for.

How it works

After going through the data planning process with their dedicated mParticle solutions team, the JetBlue mobile team was able to easily implement the mParticle API into their app, which began to collect, cleanse, standardize, and enrich real-time customer engagement and user attribute data. With a single source of clean, real-time customer data, the JetBlue team was able to get insight into what customers were doing and seeing on the app—including clicks, promotions seen, searches, flights added to cart, purchases, and pages visited. Armed with this insight, the JetBlue mobile team was able to pinpoint points of friction and use them to prioritize items on the roadmap that would make an impact on customers’ satisfaction with the app.

With mParticle in place, the JetBlue mobile team was able to integrate other tools in their stack through mParticle, rather than in the app code. This allowed the JetBlue team to integrate whatever tools they needed for app functionality, analytics, and marketing with the app, without worrying about destabilizing the app itself. Initially, not having to add an SDK every time a part of the organization needed access to their customer data relieved a major pain point, but since then, the team has seen added value from their ability to plug historical data into new partners to shorten testing cycles and compare the actual value provided to the ROI promised. 

mParticle collects JetBlue’s customer data in real time, including user engagement, activity, and attributes from the app as well as the third-party tools integrated to better understand how customers interacted with their digital properties. As customers engage with the app and other JetBlue digital properties, their engagement and attribute data is aggregated into a persistent customer profile, thanks to mParticle’s identity resolution capabilities. With access to a complete profile of individual customers that includes previous engagements and preferences, the JetBlue marketing team was able to create audience segments within the mParticle UI and forward them to activation channels without having to rely on engineering to query the database. Audience segments are updated automatically as customers qualify or disqualify themselves from the audience parameters, making it easier than ever to ensure that promotional emails and ad messaging is relevant to those particular individuals. So if a customer is looking at flights in-app to the Bahamas and adds them to cart but doesn’t purchase, they may be added to a target list that sends them an offer to incentivize them to finish booking their flight to the Bahamas. Alternately, if they complete the purchase on web, they will be excluded so they don’t receive an offer for a trip they have already purchased.

Results

  • 887K+
  • Downloads
  • on the iOS marketplace alone
  • 4.9
  • Stars
  • Average rating for JetBlue mobile app
  • 1000s
  • Hours
  • Saved of engineering time

As JetBlue’s Chief Digital and Technology Officer, Eash Sundaram has said, JetBlue is focused on their customers, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to their data strategy and the JetBlue app, as evidenced by the over 887,000 app downloads and average 4.9 star rating. "We think of ourselves as a customer service company that happens to fly planes. So when you think of the customer service aspect of JetBlue, it’s all about personalization and how we take care of customer needs. Technology plays such an integral role in addressing our customer needs," stated Sundaram.

Since implementing mParticle and the rest of their best-in-breed stack, JetBlue has been able to streamline their data infrastructure process, shorten their dev cycles, and saved thousands of engineering hours that would have otherwise been spent trying to connect mass amounts of disconnected customer data. With more insight into their customers’ experiences than ever before across the organization, JetBlue is able to deliver even better customer experiences. Powered by customer data, the JetBlue team knows that the sky’s the limit and, as the most recent app version update notes include, their customers will “live app-ily ever after” with JetBlue’s service. 

If you’d like to learn more about how JetBlue turned its mobile app into a beloved customer tool with mParticle at the core and what mParticle could do for your brand, schedule time with one of our experts.

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