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CSA Exclusive: Pilot Flying J steers toward personalization

A travel center retailer is increasing mobile loyalty participation and penetration with cloud-based data management.

In an interview with Chain Store Age, Tyler Tanaka, senior director of digital, loyalty and brand marketing at Pilot Flying J, described how the retailer has worked with Deloitte Digital and Salesforce to maintain its customer data so it can be leveraged for cloud-based, mobile loyalty and marketing purposes.

“We partnered with Deloitte Digital to clean up, organize and structure our customer data to be usable in any format,” said Tanaka. “The data was messy and not accessible.” 

Leveraging Deloitte Digital’s expertise and data standards, Tanaka said Pilot Flying J was able to prepare its loyalty data for use in an “ambitious” digital roadmap.

“We made unbelievable strides,” commented Tanaka. “We created real utility for our professional driver customers to use in our mobile app.”

Mobile app features for professional drivers include the ability to reserve shower times and parking spaces in advance. Drivers can also use the app to turn on a fuel dispenser and connect fuel purchases to their loyalty accounts for near-frictionless purchases at the pump.

Pilot Flying J also connects its customer loyalty data to the Salesforce Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud platforms. By linking data to Service Cloud, the retailer enables customer service representatives to assist shoppers via call or email, with a consistent and holistic view of their interactions. 

Utilizing Marketing Cloud, the company can directly engage customers via social media platforms, as well as conduct broader social listening campaigns to collect and analyze social chatter for rapid detection and resolution of issues customers may be complaining about on social media. For example, the customer service team could detect a customer complaint about a dirty bathroom at a specific store location on social media, notify the store, and directly communicate back to the customer when the issue has been resolved.

According to Tanaka, Pilot Flying J has had between four and five million downloads of its app since reorganizing its data with Deloitte Digital and integrating it with Salesforce Service and Marketing Cloud.

“We have huge numbers of active monthly users,” he stated. “Our aspirational goal is to have one-to-one personalization. We also want to be able to send communication to thousands of people who all look alike and deliver communication, offers and value at scale.”

Ultimately, Tanaka said Pilot Flying J hopes to combine cloud-based data management with its mobile app to “earn the turn” from professional drivers.

“The driver goes through a decision process at the time they turn off the highway,” he said. “Whether it’s food, a bathroom, or the opportunity to redeem an offer for a cold soda on a hot day or a hot coffee on a cold day, we want to use technology to make that decision possible.”

Serving as the largest operator of travel centers in North America, Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., and has more than 750 retail locations in 44 states.



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