Role: UX research, interaction + visual design
Stakeholder: Customer Solutions and Recovery at United Airlines
Deliverables: Site flows, interactive prototypes, accessibility guidelines, UI/visual design, pattern library components for design system, digital experience for responsive website and native iOS + Android app
United Airlines issues Electronic travel certificates (ETCs) to customers as a form of compensation that is redeemable for future travel purchases with the airline. As certificates are only issued via print or email with limited and difficult to find information on how to use them, customers are often driven to call the contact center for help. I was tasked with making it easier for airline members to keep track of and use their travel certificates.
Using an existing journey map, I audited the current flow from when a certificate is issued to when it is redeemed, gathering background on what is surfaced to a customer and when, to help me prioritize what to include in my designs.
For a better understanding of the problem to solve, I looked to the contact center for any customer feedback to share, as well as noticeable themes from certificate-related calls, as agents were the main touch point fielding questions. To get a sense of user expectations, I was able to leverage qualitative feedback from related a user testing baseline that I had recently conducted for a similar topic.
With a better sense of how to drive value in improving the ETC experience for customers, I navigated through a series of conversations with leadership, product, and technology teams to refine requirements for the digital experience in order to align delivery expectations.
While the eventual goal would be to display multiple forms of travel credit to a user, given that flight credit from a changed/cancelled flight reservation had complex fare rules and technical services limitations, the initial design was to focus solely on electronic travel certificates, with an ability to scale for other forms of compensation in the future. Additionally, as half of the certificates issued were to a MileagePlus member, the initial design scope focused on integrating ETCs into United accounts first.
With a defined scope and research insights, I focused my ideation on these design principles:
I began with sketching ideas for the page layout and certificate details, leveraging existing information architecture and hierarchy.
My ideation evolved into the digital space using wireframes with a more detailed visualization of how content would be organized and scale for different use cases, modifying existing design patterns as needed.
Despite working within a tight timeline to deliver (literally - updates were shared on a daily basis), I partnered with a UX researcher to plan, conduct, and synthesize a quick round of concept validation testing within two days (a personal record!).
I opted for usability testing in order to determine which, if either, design concept met user needs. Within a day, I built two click-through InVision prototypes that were launched online for remote, unmoderated testing that same evening. By the next morning, we had feedback videos from 14 participants - mainly travelers who had recently received airline credit within the past 6 months.
Prototype I - Travel credits summarized at top next to loyalty balances
Reference: Prototype I
Prototype II - Travel credits appear in a dedicated section below summary of loyalty balances
Reference: Prototype II
Overwhelmingly, participants preferred Prototype II for its dedicated section because they could see all of their credits exposed, the different amounts and expirations dates, as well as have the ability to expand for more details.
“I liked seeing it all out there right away. It was super clear what credits I had” - Research participant
Testing feedback helped to validate design decisions I originally made such as surfacing the credits vs. just summarizing them, organizing the layout by expiration date, and including call-to-action links for next steps. It also helped me identify that having more detailed information was an area of improvement in my design iteration. Having this qualitative feedback also enabled the product team to accelerate decision-making and gain approvals from leadership and project stakeholders.
The dedicated travel credit section appears in a United account for members who have a valid Electronic travel certificate. This direction allows roofer improvement as traveler needs change and has the potential to expand and include other forms of payment and compensation, if needed. The ability to view and use an ETC from a member account on United’s digital channels launched in May 2020- helping over 5K members access their certificates within the first day.
As the ability to access and use certificates evolve on United’s digital channels, I continue to push for ways to generate qualitative feedback loops that are used to prioritize future enhancements that can map toward a more holistic compensation strategy for the airline’s customers.