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AAA of Western and Central New York

Driving improvements for AAA WCNY

Customer Details

AAA is one of the United State’s most respected organizations and recognized brands. For its millions of members, AAA membership represents peace of mind. Having built on its core offering of emergency roadside assistance to provide travel services, insurance and financial services that extend well beyond just the automotive realm, today AAA gives members that same peace of mind across its many offerings.



Avolin Solution

Pivotal CRM


  • Transactional systems and manual processes not effective
  • Data inconsistencies and inadequate reporting

Key Benefits

  • Reduced call times, increased productivity and integrated with marketing
  • Increased documented member feedback by 45%

Benefits of Pivotal CRM include increased associate productivity, reduced call times, increased conversion of member interactions to member transactions and an increase in recorded member feedback items - a 45% increase over the same time the previous year, before the system was implemented.

AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) is among the larger of AAA’s 41 individual Clubs nationally, with more than 880,000. Stretching from the Canadian border south to Pennsylvania, AAA WCNY covers approximately two-thirds of upstate New York with its 14 travel and insurance branches staffed by 170 front-line associates, as well as four call centers with 200 associates answering member calls at any time.

You might not think an organization such as AAA WCNY would have a problem with member satisfaction or retention, and you would be right. Over the course of its 110 years operating in the region, AAA WCNY has built strong member relationships and trust equity. The association boasts high member retention and satisfaction rates that would be the envy of many other businesses and associations. But that’s not enough to make AAA WCNY rest on its laurels – it’s continually striving to enhance its member service and relationships.

For Lesley Lannan, Vice President of Member Experience, the idea of being a “member” implies more than just being a customer. “That simple delineation of membership implies an intimate relationship,” she explains. “Our members don’t just pay for service; they belong to an organization. Many people still call us the Auto ‘Club,’ which means that we’re in this together.

Moving from Transactional to Member-Focused

To ensure that members enjoy outstanding experiences, AAA WCNY is committed to equipping its associates with the knowledge, skills, orientation and technology resources to understand the importance of their relationship with their member-customers and deliver experiences to match. As part of this initiative, AAA WCNY sought a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system – or, in their case a member relationship management system.

Many of AAA WCNY’s member interactions were heavily reliant on manual processes and transaction. Members received the personalized service that comes from being served by experienced, dedicated associates, but the manual nature of the interactions came with drawbacks. Member information was often logged in scattered notebooks, file folders and post-it notes, rather than a centralized database. This also rendered it accessible to only one associate, so if a member called or came back into a given office to discuss travel plans they had previously broached with an associate, if that associate was not available, they would have to start over with a new staff member.

Furthermore, only actual transactions were recorded, not the many non-transactional interactions and exchanges that often take place with a member before a transaction and help build the relationship. In  addition, AAA WCNY didn’t have a systematic way to capture feedback and suggestions, whether positive or negative, so it did not have the information it needed to determine how best to serve members and improve the member experience. And as an organization that processes more than 1.5 million member interactions through its call centers, 800,000 through the Web, and 600,000 through branch visits every year, even small inefficiencies add up quickly.

We wanted to be at the next level in our dealings with members. We felt that we could do a better job by having a tool that would serve up to our front-line associates the complete view of the member. We didn’t always necessarily have the right visibility into our pipelines, and just as any organization, we wanted to figure out how to be more efficient in serving our members without giving up any of the effectiveness or intimacy.Bob Leach, CIO, AAA Western and Central New York

David Gevanthor, Vice President of Travel, says, “The pre-existing systems were very transactional, so we knew how many TripTiks we did and how many travel packages we sold in a year, but we could not relate them well to the membership as a whole, nor could the individual lines of business see the other activities that the member was engaged in. The overarching goal was to provide a higher level of service for the member regardless of business line.

To achieve this goal, AAA WCNY looked for a member-centric software solution that could support advanced workflows to help associates in the call center and branch offices consistently capture information and serve members. They chose Pivotal CRM in part because of its superior ability to integrate with the association’s transactional systems.

“When somebody is broken down by the side of the road, there’s the initial call to the call center, but over the next 30 or 35 minutes, you’re giving them status updates, so it’s really critical for us to have real-time integration from our transactional systems into the membership system.”

For Lesley Lannan, the top selection criterion was ease of adoption. With a workforce accustomed to less-computerized member interactions, she knew they would need a system that was easy to use and integrate into users’ daily work routines. For this reason, Lannan notes, “Pivotal’s integration with Outlook was very appealing because that made it easier for people to learn one new system instead of two.”

Making Pivotal Their Own

Having selected Pivotal CRM, AAA WCNY had the system they needed, but they knew that adapting it to their specific environment would be critical to success. To ensure effectiveness as well as user adoption, AAA WCNY needed to fit the system to the way their associates worked – something that was not well documented in the branch offices at the time. They took the time to work closely with staff to document and refine work processes before modeling these in the system.

The flexibility of Pivotal CRM and its workflow tools proved invaluable in supporting this process. “A lot of service systems are so prepackaged and don’t work with our particular set of workflows, products, services and so forth,” says Lannan. “We found that Pivotal really lent itself to customization and to our workflows.”

AAA WCNY also realized that a major factor in the success of the implementation would be the effectiveness with which AAA associates were informed, trained and engaged in the project. Working with Avolin, on the initiative they internally branded as Member Focus, they devised an in-depth communication plan 14 months prior to the system roll-out that involved multiple steps and mechanisms, from online learning tools and resources to games and contests. Taking the time to document and model workflows and effectively train associates in the use and value of the system has paid off for AAA WCNY and the 470 users who use it every day.

We ended up with a product that is highly refined. When new people join our organization, they tell us how intuitive it is and how easy it is to use, which give me a lot of confidence that we made the right decision.Lesley Lannan, Vice President of Member Experience, AAA of Western and Central New York

CIO Bob Leach is especially happy with the way the workflows are now supported in the system. “Because we took a workflow approach, we have been able to replace anecdotal discussions with fact-based ones,” says Leach. “This also allowed us to better coach each layer of the organization in how to better serve the member.”

Enjoying the Results

The impact of the CRM project at AAA WCNY has been significant. “Pivotal has really changed the fiber of our workforce and our daily interactions,” Gevanthor says. Better member information and tools from Pivotal CRM have made AAA WCNY associates more productive. “With Pivotal, it’s much easier to update information, document member concerns and research their inquiries,” says Lannan. “It’s made our
associates’ work much more focused and efficient.”

Benefits of the system include increased associate productivity, reduced call times, increased conversion of member interactions to member transactions and an increase in recorded member feedback items – a 45% increase over the same time the previous year, before the system was implemented.

With the system, AAA WCNY also has greater visibility and coordination across its multiple business lines. “Using Pivotal, we now have much more consistency and opportunity to communicate across many different business units,” Lannan says. Over time, this will help AAA WCNY find opportunities to help members access a broader range of products and services.

The ultimate success metric for AAA WCNY is member retention. While retention figures were already enviable, the association is confident that their system will positively impact this metric. They also expect that as they raise the performance bar on their core services and deepen member relationships, members will turn to them for additional services such as travel and insurance, generating higher revenue per member – revenue that, as a not-for-profit corporation, AAA WCNY is able to put right back into delivering more and better services to its members.

Looking at the Road Ahead

Member Focus is an ongoing objective for AAA WCNY, so the project will continue to grow and evolve over coming months. AAA WCNY is continually looking for ways to refine and improve the system and its workflows. Plans include development of more extensive reporting for mid-level managers, increased use of member intelligence to enhance database marketing efforts and deployment of a new telecommunications platform with computer-telephony integration.

With the success of the first phase of implementing Pivotal CRM, early planning is also underway to bring several business lines that were not part of the initial roll-out onto the system, which will come closer to giving everyone in the business the 360-degree view Pivotal offers its current users.

Finally, as AAA WCNY looks to the future, it sees continued innovation, guided by the increased member feedback and knowledge the system has made possible. “Pivotal CRM will be our compass to identify what we should be developing for our current and prospective members,” says Lannan. “The result will be more innovative products.”

Find out more about Pivotal