If you were trying to fly in or out of the North East U.S. a few weeks ago you’ll no doubt remember the problem JetBlue was having in keeping flights in the air and on schedule. The problems started with an ice storm that naturally led to flights being grounded, but once air travel resumed JetBlue found itself lagging in getting their operation running again. We all know things happen and in this case JetBlue dropped the ball. However their response to the situation is more telling about the company than the temporary problems they faced.
As someone who had flown JetBlue I received an email a few days after the events as did all JetBlue customers. The email was a public apology from CEO David Neeleman.
You deserved better – a lot better – from us last week and we let you down. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust and all of us here hope you will give us the opportunity to once again welcome you on board and provide you the positive JetBlue Experience you have come to expect from us.
Sure the apology is in part about damage control, but I think they went beyond reputation management here. JetBlue could very easily have blamed the weather and moved on. Instead they took responsibility for not being able to handle the circumstances better and owned up to their mistakes. They didn’t stop at the apology, though.
JetBlue drafted a customer bill of rights to insure the company remains accountable for its service in the future. Included in the customer’s rights are vouchers up to the price of the one way ticket for long controllable delays.
Additionally the airline is taking an internal look at why they had the issues they had during the weather emergency and taking measures to make sure something similar doesn’t happen again. Much of the measure involve hiring and training additional staff and improving the flow of information to it’s customers.
A lot of companies point to their superior customer support as part of their marketing. For most companies this is little more than lip service. JetBlue is showing with their apology, their customer bill of rights, and their internal improvements that customer service is more than just a promise from them. The company is actively practicing customer service and there is no better way to market customer support as a selling point.
Things happen. We all know and accept that. Sometimes circumstances beyond your control lead to less than successful days for your business. Owning up to your mistakes and learning from them is the best approach to maintaining the loyalty of your customers. Your customers will understand if you’re not perfect. What they won’t understand is you trying to convince them otherwise. Make yourself accountable and work to improve your systems so the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
There are reasons JetBlue has been one of the fastest growing airlines over the last few years. One of them is a clear commitment to providing the best experience they can for their customers. Their recent apology and customer bill of rights are examples of that commitment.
Update: While reading today I came across this post from Pronet Advertising that talks about how Comcast handles things somewhat opposite of the way JetBlue deals with their customers. I thought it made it a nice comparison post so have a look at Bad Bad Buzz and see why taking care of your customers beyond the sale is important.