omnichannel usability study | alaska airlines | 2015



In 2015 I proposed and commissioned an omni-channel usability study for Alaska Airlines, where we observed customers interacting with email, web, mobile apps, kiosks, and post-trip surveys in an effort to improve the overall customer journey. 

my role

UX Design Manager.

My role was to propose the research, get funding, engage stakeholders, help design the study, and oversee the internal and external researchers who conducted the research. There were two primary researchers on the project: one from an agency and one who reported to me.


  1. understand customer pain points as they use products and manage their trips cross-channel

  2. understand use cases the current digital experiences did not support well

  3. understand the extent to which visual design and UX differences affect customer perception

  4. build customer empathy within the company by observing customers using products in tandem

  5. My goals for the team: establish a customer-centric eCommerce culture where UX could thrive



As a first step, the team worked with stakeholders to identify research questions important to them, as well as ensure organizational buy-in. Next, we used analytics to determine typical customer behavior at each phase in the customer journey. We mapped which personas tended to use which channel for each phase of the customer journey, and used that to guide the creation of prototypes as well as construct our testing scripts:


Journey maps by traveler persona

A journey map describing the various ways customers interacted with Alaska Air. This enabled us to create scenarios that were representative of what real travelers do. Blurred due to NDA.


Once the test scripts were finalized we recruited research candidates guided by the various personas we wanted to understand better:


Recruiting guidelines and participant scheduler spreadsheet. We had more than 15 participants. Blurred due to NDA.


With test scripts in hand and participants identified, we conducted the study. To engage the majority of stakeholders, the sessions were both live-streamed across the company. We debriefed after each. 


Some screen captures of participant sessions--showing a kiosk (left) and a mobile phone (right).


At the end of all the sessions we had a cumulative study debrief as well to identify overall surprises, customer delights, pain points, and overall themes. 


The study itself was an opportunity to center the product, technology, and design teams around the customer. I deliberately designed a study that exposed non-researchers to customers to build customer empathy.  


The research produced dozens of findings, many of which were new to the Alaska team. We created an action plan for each channel describing areas of improvement. We also visualized customer behaviors to help product teams better understand how customers use various products across their omni-channel journey and identify where pain points are:


At right: A graph describing the various channels customers used to complete certain tasks. This was helpful for us to understand where pain points were in the cross-platform experience.



This project was helpful for developing the products Alaska offered, but it was also helpful to coach the UX team around the need to use customer data in the design process.  


"[Jerrod] strongly advocates for the customer and uses data to make informed decisions. He leads his team by balancing high performance expectations with a strong investment in coaching and mentoring which starts with his open communication."

- UX Designer, Alaska Airlines