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Transform: Own Disruption and the Future of CX

Navigating Disruption: AAA Northeast’s Digital Transformation

red car on highway with streaking lights

From its work campaigning for better roadways in the 1900s to distributing maps and providing roadside assistance, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has had a close understanding of its members’ expectations and needs for generations. Today, it’s more important than ever for organizations to understand and exceed customer expectations. 

AAA Northeast, a regional AAA club, is aware that its success depends on providing members with relevant information and an engaging experience in addition to reliable products and services. For that reason, the club has launched a multi-year digital transformation of its member experience.

Driving change 
AAA Northeast serves 5.7 million members in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Over the years, the club has expanded its products and services. In addition to roadside assistance, it now provides car rentals, insurance, travel planning, banking services, and other benefits.

But as AAA Northeast faces a transition to a digital-first era, it’s essential that the club drive greater member engagement in a way that’s digital, data-driven, and efficient. 
A few years ago, AAA Northeast set out to transform its digital channels to better address member demands for a fast, effortless experience. “As we reimagine our digital experiences, giving members the ability to interact with us when they want to, how they want to, and where they want to is core to our mission,” says Mark Pelletier, vice president of e-Business at AAA Northeast. 

Staying member-driven
People, processes, and technology formed the framework of the transformation, according to Pelletier. In terms of people, the organization wanted to make sure it was including its members in its decisions. “Our CEO said, ‘Look, we need to be digitally relevant, but specific to that, be member-driven,’” Pelletier says. With that in mind, AAA Northeast selected Adobe and Microsoft solutions for their testing and analytics capabilities. The organization started with Adobe Target for optimization, Adobe Analytics for insights, and Adobe Experience Manager as its content management solution.

Pelletier says the digital team determines the best, personalized experience for its members by, “constantly testing different parts of the experience with members to make sure each change is as effective as possible.” Within 18 months, AAA Northeast ran more than 450 personalization and testing activities on its website, while measuring every interaction to make informed decisions about the digital strategies that work best. 

For example, after experimenting with the “join” landing page, AAA Northeast adjusted the hero image, call to action, and how it displayed membership benefits and fees that led to increased signups from 26 percent to 45 percent, which translates to thousands of new members joining online. The digital team also learned that a multi-step login was discouraging people from logging in to renew their memberships, especially those who forgot their passwords. Offering a simplified guest login solved the issue and improved online renewal rates by 13 percent. “Ironically, users were ultimately entering the same amount of information through the guest login,” Pelletier notes. “But we learned that giving them this option was more effective.” 

AAA Timeline

Removing obstacles
As Harvard Business Review noted in the article, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. As such, AAA Northeast set out to make it easier for members to find the products and services that were most relevant to them. 

Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Audience Manager, the digital team started mapping content and offers to different audiences based on what the organization knows about them. It also combined website analytics with sales records and third-party data to get a clearer picture of members and prospects, including their propensity for interest in certain products. 

In addition to optimizing its website for members, AAA Northeast saw an opportunity to help the sales team by using digital tools to drive traffic to its landing pages, along with higher lead generation and management. The marketing and sales teams also received ROI calculations right down to the tactical level based on connected offline sales activity.
While AAA Northeast continues to make improvements, its efforts to transform the member experience have already yielded results. Its nationwide digital satisfaction ranking in the AAA federation rose from #14 in 2017 to #1 in 2018—and it remains in the lead today. Digital revenue and transactions are up 25 percent and 30 percent YoY and repeat website visits have increased 60 percent. 

What’s next
Looking ahead, AAA Northeast is looking into using automation and AI to draw on its analytics and insights to engage members on a greater scale. “We’re still testing it, but we want to take AB testing to the next level,” Pelletier says. “That includes using AI to present offers to members in real time who behave similarly to other members or other factors. So far, it’s been very promising.” 

AAA Timeline