First Line was engaged by a system integration firm as part of a larger IT transformation program for the end client, one of the world’s largest passenger railroad carriers.

Client

First Line was engaged by a system integration firm as part of a larger IT transformation program for the end client, one of the world’s largest passenger railroad carriers.

Challenge

Customer loyalty is fundamental to any business strategy, and it is especially true in today’s challenging economy. Implementing a successful customer loyalty program that engages and rewards the firm’s best customers provides it with a strategic business tool for increasing revenue and profitability.

Flexible and powerful technology is key to the success of loyalty programs. The loyalty software platform provides the core engine for the program by integrating with back-end applications, payment systems, marketing channels, and various third parties.

Facing tough economic conditions and increasing competition, the client decided to introduce a comprehensive loyalty offering to boost repeat sales. A decision was made in favor of building a custom solution over purchasing an off-the-shelf product. First Line was selected as the leading development partner.

First Line’s Solution

Our experts were responsible for the requirements elaboration, design, development, testing, integration and deployment of the core engine of the platform. In the first phase of the project, our team has delivered a loyalty system that includes the following functionality:

  • Online account management for passengers
  • Miles accrual and redemption
  • Bonus engine and rule-based decisioning
  • Integration with multiple internal and external systems: Ticketing and payment system, Customer support call center, Customer intelligence software, Marketing channels, etc.

The platform was successfully developed on time and on budget, and first went live at the beginning of Q3 2012.

In addition to building the core platform and integrating it with the carrier’s website, the team also developed dedicated mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile to give users access to their account and the opportunity to view account balance, account history and award options.

In the second phase of the project, our engineers implemented the real-time price optimization engine based on the product from Sabre Airline Solutions.

When a passenger tries to buy a ticket with his miles, the railroad’s legacy proprietary ticketing system first asks for the confirmation from the loyalty engine that this passenger has miles to redeem, and that there are award tickets remaining on that service. Once the confirmation is received, the ticket is issued, and the loyalty system deducts the appropriate number of miles form the passenger’s account. Now, in addition, the ticket transaction data is fed into the Sabre dynamic pricing engine in real time, and the prices for the remainder of the tickets are recalculated after each sale and fed back into the ticketing system.

Even though Sabre is a household name in the airline world, its product required significant customization to be applicable for a railroad carrier. Unlike in air travel, long haul train routes a large number of legs, and so the same seat can come to be occupied, in turns, by multiple passengers along the way. The complex logic responsible for making the seats on long distance train routes available for sales to passengers traveling on the subsequent legs of the train’s journey, as well as all the interfaces between the loyalty platform, the pricing engine, and the ticketing system were designed and developed by First Line’s experts.

Team size: 8
Total effort: 160 person-months

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Client References

The team we put together in the last half of this year is one of the most productive, skilled and enjoyable I’ve ever worked on. It’s great to see the product brought to life, and I’m proud to work with all you folks.

Senior Architect, Fortune 100 company

Your effort is the #1 reason that this project is going so well. I've worked with a lot of teams over the years and there are very few teams that I trust and respect. When you are given a task or feature, I never have to worry whether or not it will be accomplished on time and I never worry about the quality - you always deliver.

Architect, Strategic Software Consultancy

First Line is a great technology partner capable of delivering complex, ‘industrial grade’ projects. They have demonstrated strong technical competence and solid understanding of the media and publishing domain. We have also been very impressed by the management team's attention to our needs and commitment to our success.

CEO, leading European digital media company

I would like to thank the First Line development team for their dedication and high level of quality in their work. Despite being thousands of miles apart, we have been able to work quickly, effectively, and intelligently. Your team has been a major part of why we have been successful thus far.

VP Engineering, e-learning startup

The First Line team has an excellent process and we can learn from your team and improve.

Product Owner, Strategic Software Consultancy

We've all learned a lot from you, and it is great working with you.

Application Development Director, global marketing company

Our First Line Team has been doing a great job. All of the guys check in great code, and they have a forward thinking mindset, not a feature-to-feature approach. They are also very open in terms of sharing knowledge, which is critical to running productive distributed teams.

Application Development Director, global marketing company

For a software vendor like ourselves, picking the right development partner is crucial. First Line’s technical expertise and solid project management, coupled with their proficiency in Agile methodologies, have made them an integral part of our product development group.

VP Product Development, leading enterprise software vendor

We have never had a better release that we can think of. And that is all because of your hard and dedicated work. So here is a big THANK YOU to everyone from all of us!

Editor, leading Scandinavian newspaper

Your quality of work is exceptional, and your flexible approach has allowed us to build and deploy a large amount of complex functionality in a very short space of time. Kudos to everyone for their professionalism and for delivering results that exceeded our expectations.

CEO, leading social media analytics provider

I want to express my gratitude for all of your team’s hard work and support over the last few months. Our project is officially live and we could not have done it without your assistance. I especially would like to thank Alex for his extra help this weekend. I understand it was at the last minute and late nights for him. We are very grateful for all that he has done for us.

Senior Project Manager, the US software development company
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