Jet Blue, Once Again, Teaches Us About Customer Service

One can only admire the response this past week by Jet Blue, following their customer service debacle when people had to sit on planes for 9+ hours at JFK due to weather and no available gates. Jet Blue, not waiting for Congress to create an airline Passenger Bill of Rights, took the lead and announced their own Passenger Bill of Rights.

Jet Blue's response follows some of the principles of Johnson & Johnson's textbook response following the Tylenol tampering crisis in 1982. J&J's handling of the crisis is considered by public relations experts to be one of the best in the history of public relations. J&J took responsibility, removed Tylenol from the market, pledged to fix the problem and took steps to reassure the public that this kind of unfortunate event was unlikely to ever happen again.

Jet Blue's response was also a textbook example of outstanding customer service and public relations. It's consistent with the best-practice customer service policies we've blogged about that included (1) acknowledge the problem and apologize (2) pledge to fix the problem (3) leave the customer feeling good about the situation.

Jet Blue's CEO David Neeleman has been apologizing profusely. A letter from Mr. Neeleman was also made available through full-page ads and in an email to all Jet Blue customers that started out with the words "We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all, we are deeply sorry". Then Jet Blue announced their Passenger Bill of Rights that says this about cancelled flights:

"All customers whose flight is cancelled by JetBlue will, at the customer’s option, receive a full refund or re-accommodation on a future JetBlue flight at no additional charge or fare. If JetBlue cancels a flight within 12 hours of scheduled departure and the cancellation is due to a Controllable Irregularity, JetBlue will also provide the customer with a Voucher valid for future travel on JetBlue in the amount paid to JetBlue for the customer’s roundtrip."

They also have language about departure delays, overbookings and ground delays. Their language about "overbookings" simply says "customers who are involuntarily denied boarding shall receive $1,000.” Wow.

I don’t know if this makes sense financially for Jet Blue but I truly admire the principle of the decision. My guess is their customers will reward them with increased loyalty. And this is a big deal in the commodity airline industry.

All companies will make mistakes. But when things do go wrong, you can distinguish a great company from an average company by how they respond. Jet Blue, once again, separated itself from the pack by taking accountability and showing they actually care about their customers. Good job, Jet Blue.

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