Monday, March 21, 2011

United Airlines: The hard cross-sell during the Easy Check-In

Cross-selling strategies end up somewhere on the spectrum between:

A) Delighting customers by providing them a good or service that they want that they didn't know was available


B) Annoying your experienced customers by making it cumbersome to execute a transaction

United Airlines provides an example that, at least for me, ends up at the B) end of the spectrum.
Some airlines have a streamline online check-in process.  From the main check-in screen, with one click you are printing your boarding pass.   You might even call this "easy check-in."

With the "EasyCheck-in" process with United Airlines, however, you've got to navigate past two screens.  The first offers an upgrade to Economy Plus ($14 on my flight from LGA ot IAD) or First Class ($65).  Then there is a second screen with a confusing option for Premier Travel ($47) or Premier Travel Plus ($80).  The default option selected is to add one of these options, which is annoying.

And then on the fourth screen you still don't see your boarding pass - you've got to click for yet a fifth screen.

I expect it is easy for United to measure the increase in revenue, but harder to measure to what degree customers are annoyed or confused.  Perhaps the message is, "Yes, we know this is annoying you, and we actually don't care.  What are you going to do, fly another airline?"  

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