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Digitally transforming the guest experience to accelerate growth at Pilot Company
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As the largest operator of travel centers in North America, Pilot Company’s Pilot Flying J travel centers serve, on average, more than 1.6 million guests daily – a mix of truck drivers, auto drivers and RVers. That’s more people each day than the Atlanta Airport and Disney Parks combined.

In early 2018, Pilot Company partnered with Publicis Sapient to significantly enhance the way guests interact with its travel centers – before, during and after their visit–through a transformed digital customer experience.

At the core of this transformation was a full engagement strategy, redesign and re-platforming of the company’s mobile experience. Since launching the Pilot Flying J app in April 2019, it has outperformed on every level, allowing Pilot Company to continue to ‘earn the turn’ from drivers.

The imperative for change

Pilot Company came to us with a clear ask: fundamentally enhance the one-to-one relationships with guests in every experience and interaction. Focusing on customer-centricity, we worked with Pilot Company to completely revamp their digital customer experience to offer advanced capabilities that anticipate guests needs and improve utility and value throughout their journey.

Coming together with Pilot Company team members as One Team – a tightly integrated group of business strategists, designers and technologists – we looked to drive both guest value and incremental sales for the business in the long term, while also keeping an eye on the experience and technical requirements for an initial release. We achieved this through a combination of primary and secondary research (including interviews with professional drivers), value proposition creation and a series of ‘micro-journeys’ focused on the moments that matter to drivers, as well as where the mobile experience would play the most meaningful role.

A multi-phase product roadmap focusing on strategic pillars was created, alongside a new digital brand expression that was tested with professional drivers in multiple iterations. With these components in place, the team was ready to execute.

“The Publicis Sapient team really helped us evolve our digital strategy over time by doing the work around moments that matter and making sure we were going back to the foundational pieces that were going to drive the business.”
Ginny Holmes, Manager, Digital Products, Pilot Company

 

The transformative solution

Over the course of 10 three-week agile sprints, the team delivered a new and redesigned experience, introducing key features such as enhanced onboarding, a fully revamped loyalty system and a message inbox enabling the company to send direct communications via the app on subjects such as important alerts, offers and rewards.

A dynamic dashboard adapts to the needs of drivers in and outside the travel center geofence. The app uses predictive analysis to help drivers make parking decisions based on available spots along their route and to help save drivers time by directing them to the fastest fueling lane.

An updated profile paradigm allows users to switch driver ‘modes’ (Pro, RV and Auto), offering an experience that adapts to the unique needs of those segments. For example, when searching for locations, quick filters for pro drivers will offer services and amenities quite different from those for RVers.

Throughout the design phase, the UX team conducted on-site usability testing with professional drivers at Pilot Flying J travel centers.

Back-end technology created by the team in the development phase provides real-time predictive information about driver traffic and purchasing choices. It offers rich business analytics that transforms the core business and makes data easily accessible to decision-makers. The technology stack also lays the foundation for further personalization and the addition of industry-leading features, such as conversational UI and gamification.

Ultimately, the new ecosystem allows Pilot Company to continue innovating, elevating the customer experience and driving value and sales.

“We’re able to quickly make changes behind the scenes without having to submit a new app release, which is really key in the marketplace today."
Daniel Lynch, Senior Program Manager, Pilot Company

Business impact

The strategy for the Pilot Flying J app was to drive guest value and incremental sales for Pilot Company. By all accounts – and some very impressive stats – the One Team of Publicis Sapient and Pilot Company have exceeded all of their original goals. Since launch, Pilot Company has seen:

"In addition,” says Mike Rodgers, Pilot Company’s Chief Strategy and Information Officer, “our customers have told us how much they like it and how much it’s changed their lives... the experience has been really, really positive.”

127%
increase in app installs
170%
increase in unique users compared to the previous year
40%
more offers redeemed
25%
increase in sales

Award Winning Work

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