friend, MaryAnn, was on a JetBlue flight heading home to Boston a few weeks ago. The flight
connected through New York, JFK. Her initial flight landed on schedule in New York before 7pm, and the second leg of
her trip home was scheduled to depart at 8pm. The trip from JFK to Boston normally takes about an hour, so with just
a little luck our friend was anticipating being home around 10pm. She was at the gate and ready to go.
But then things took a nose dive. First a text from JetBlue announced that
takeoff would be a delayed until 9:10pm. (Good communication is important, right?) Then another delay announcement, and another,
and another. By the time the evening ended, MaryAnn arrived home at about 2:30 AM. That made for an extremely
Even More Unusual
Before most of
the passengers on that flight had awakened the next morning, their phones had received the following personalized message
from JetBlue (issued at 5:30am):
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience
you experienced on JetBlue Flight #918. We understand how challenging it is when travel plans are disrupted.
As a gesture of apology and goodwill, we have issued each eligible customer* on this flight a service credit in the amount
(** This compensation is issued in accordance with our Customer Bill of Rights. For more information click here.)
for customer complaints to come in. No excuses or double-talk about acts of God. No hoping that some of the passengers
led such busy lives and had been worn down by previous airline delays that they might not even notice (or take the time to
complain). No delays in the process to run the costs of the credit by some senior manager for approval. Just an
apology and a generous credit.
When the story of the flight was told to us the aggravation seemed somewhat tempered, and the mention
of the quick apology and the $100 credit was a significant part of the conversation.
Is Jet Blue Needlessly Spending Money?
Let’s be realistic. There were a minimum 100 passengers on Flight
#918 that evening, so handing out all those $100 credits just cost JetBlue $10,000 or perhaps more. It wasn’t
cheap – or was it?
Without their immediate apology and the credit, JetBlue would have suffered:
calls, emails and letters to their customer service center – perhaps multiple contacts – from disgruntled Flight 918
passengers.Obviously handling those communications costs money.
- Added call volume resulting in delays in answering other calls from
customers who had nothing to do with Flight 918, thereby compounding the dissatisfaction of even more customers.
- Loss of future business from customers who didn’t even bother to contact JetBlue but who simply decided to reduce their
future bookings with JetBlue.
- Negative word of mouth from the involved customers whose only remaining recourse
would have been to complain to friends and acquaintances.
Plenty of negative word of mouth from customers as they related their ‘night
of misery’ with JetBlue to friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers on all those blogs and online
Great Decision; We Think!
have the inside look at the JetBlue business model to say for sure that the cost of all that damage would have totaled more
than $10,000, but it with the price of airline tickets it seems that the potential loss in sales caused by the negative word
of mouth generated by 100 passengers alone would have been much greater.
We’ve all heard case studies about how customers whose complaints
are addressed become more loyal to a business than non-involved customers. JetBlue’s actions in pre-empting complaints
sets a new, higher standard which we have to believe will produce even stronger customer appreciation.
The Underlying Lesson
When you or your organization fails a customer:
- Act quickly.
- Admit to the problem, apologize, and
keep it simple (Don’t start trying to make the complexities of running your business the customer’s problem).
- Don’t wait for the complaints
and the negative word of mouth to get started; preempt complaints by acting as customers would wish you to act -
acknowledge your mistake, solve the problem, show them you appreciate their business!