Jet Blue

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of the massive delays suffered by Jet Blue Airline passengers during Valentine’s Day week.  Passengers were stranded on Jet Blue planes for hours at New York’s JFK Airport  because of a combination of bad weather, equipment problems, and flight crews being stranded in the wrong cities.

That’s old news.  As Paul Harvey would say, "here’s the rest of the story."  Today, Business  Week released its listing of the top 25 "Customer Service Champs."  Jet Blue was originally included in the list.  But, after the recent problems, BW decided to remove them.

As I read the article, my first impression was that it only takes one mistake to damage an otherwise excellent reputation for customer service.  Jet Blue became the target of late-night talk shows and now has been unceremoniously dumped from the list of "Champs".  What a valuable lesson for all of us.  Never rest on your laurels.  You’re only as good as your last contact with the customer.  What have you done for me lately?

Fortunately, I stayed with the article and the reader comments.  The comments are overwhelmingly in support of the airline.  Some examples:

"Perhaps I should cancel my subscription for BusinessWeek for being so shortsided."

"The mistakes made in the last ten days should not negate seven years of
molding an airline that stays focused on safety, caring, and integrity
as core values."  [from a Jet Blue crewmember]

"Everyone makes mistakes — hopefully Jet Blue has learned — and the
other airlines as well. If it happens again — then consider moving
them. Geez–give them a chance!"

"In response to your "X-ing" Jet Blue’s name out of the customer services
list, I’ll be the first to say that I am ashamed of the way this
magazine conducts its affairs. I believe it is a pathetic move on your
part to cover up the truth in order to increase sales of your magazine.

"Wow — did you make a mistake? Talk about one-sided reporting. Why not
applaud the fact that Jet Blue admitted their mistake and publicly

"Airlines have canceled flights due to weather, botched schedules,
ruined travelers’ plans, and had their operations end up in chaos for
years, no decades, and never apologized to their customers. Jet Blue
takes the high road and the news media takes the opportunity to engage
in sensational journalism with a big red "X"."

"This "barb" thrown by Business Week shall soon be forgotten, and public
opinion shall prevail. It’s quite easy to stand in the shadows and
throw stones at those who attempt perfection.
Maybe the people of Business Week magazine should try reinventing

So I guess the real lesson from the "Jet Blue Affair" is that customer loyalty, as Master Card might say, is priceless.  "Satisfied" customers may or may not buy from you again.  Loyal customers will rally around you when things go bad almost like members of a family. 

If you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s "7 Habits of Highly Successful People", one of his concepts is the "emotional bank account".   Simply stated, every time you do something for someone, you make a deposit in your emotional bank account with that person.  When you do something wrong, you make a withdrawal.  As long as the deposits are greater than the withdrawals, you have a positive balance.  Like a personal savings account, it is possible to recover from an overdraft, but it’s going to cost you.  Of course, the higher your average balance over time, the more likely the bank is to work with you.  It’s much better to make sure that account always has a big enough balance to cover any possible future checks you may need to cash.

Aparently Jet Blue understands this concept better than Business Week.

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