AARP Creates a Customer Experience That Builds Value

AARP Customer ExperienceThe customer is everything at AARP. The non-profit nonpartisan organization’s goal is a powerful one: To strengthen communities and fight for the issues that matter most to families, like healthcare, employment security and retirement planning.

AARP earned three awards at the inaugural Loyalty360 CX Awards presented Monday at the 4th annual Loyalty360 Engagement & Experience Expo held in Dallas, Texas. AARP garnered the following awards: A Bronze Award in Brand Messaging; a Silver Award in the Omni-Channel/Multi-Channel category; and a Bronze medal in the 360-Degree Award, North America category.

Almost 38 million people belong to AARP and membership continues to climb, in large part due to AARP’s commitment to change the way we may think of people over 50. AARP is uniquely qualified to serve as a voice of the Baby Boomer generation – one of the most active and engaged generations in the U.S. today.

To effectively carry out AARP’s mission and vision, the organization has created a unified customer experience where the user and his or her needs are placed first.

“We strive to present one cohesive brand to users,” Nataki Edwards, vice president of digital strategy and operations for AARP, told Loyalty360. “We deliver value through advocacy, information, and service in order for people to fulfill their goals and dreams at any age.”

Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson discussed AARP’s customer engagement strategy with Edwards on the heels of the Loyalty360’s Engagement & Experience Expo. Edwards explained AARP’s unique – and inspiring - approach to customer experience.

How would you define customer experience and how would you say that definition impacts your focus?

We don’t really talk about customer experience in the same way that most brands might. We have a focus on the customer first. Especially in digital, our focus is really centered on having a unified customer experience, meaning that whether a customer is interacting with us online or at an event, it’s always seamless and personal. So when you register online and we learn how long you’ve been a member, for example, we should recognize you as such when you visit us or when you call. We believe that recognizing the customer first is a tenant of good customer strategy.

Why do you think customer experience is so important?

Our customers are the life and blood of AARP. We’re really focused on making sure that our customers don’t have a disjointed experience with us. AARP has a lot to offer and we talk about a lot of different things and so it’s important that our customers don’t get multiple messages from us and that they don’t have different experiences with us either.

For instance, with our Rewards for Good program, it’s important for us to make sure that the experience is seamless for our customers when they go from to the redemption catalog, which is hosted by a partner. It’s all about trust and, ultimately, if you don’t have a seamless customer experience it’s very hard for customers to trust you.

How does AARP measure customer experience?

In a variety of ways. Everything from user satisfaction to hard data. We have a survey on our website that we’ve run for over seven years and so we have a lot of trended data to help us. We’re asking everything from: Do you trust the content and information? Did you find what you were looking for? What improvements would you make?

We’re also benchmarked against other websites so we can look at how we’re stacked up with others in the nonprofit and private sectors. This has been really helpful because it has allowed us to hone in on where we have misses and turn them into opportunities.

We look at additional analytics. We’re measuring not only scale and volume, but also engagement. Are our users converting from casual visitors to engaged users– are they logging in or registering? Are they becoming an AARP member?

And then also, we look at our overall value. Are we monetizing our pages via ad revenue? Are we sending qualified leads to our providers? Ultimately it’s the combination of the soft and hard data that has worked nicely for us.

Can you describe an a-ha moment when you knew your customer experience efforts were really working?

Our a-ha moments are almost daily. We’re a pretty mature business so we are constantly looking for ways to improve customer experience and we often make pretty radical changes. I’d say one of the biggest a-ha moments came about a year ago when we wanted to increase the number of registered users on our website. We aren’t a bank – or, so people didn’t really need to register on our site to take advantage of AARP.

We knew we needed to come up with something organic that would be of value to our customers and so we came up with the Rewards for Good, a loyalty program. It was a real a-ha moment because it solved several problems in a very elegant way. It has allowed us reward users who engage with our social mission online and use points for dollars off in our redemption catalog.

This a-ha moment let us tap into what our members love, which is saving time and money, and also tap into what we wanted which is to further our social mission and drive more logged in and registered users. 

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