Friday, November 16, 2007

Jet Blues

"Fly Jet Blue!" Everyone insisted. "It's fantastic! They have movies and t.v. and the seats are comfortable and the service is great and everyone is sooooo friendly. The crew is on a first name basis too!" Okay, I'll fly them, I thought to myself and off I sailed on Jet Blue.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival at the Jet Blue counter at JFK was the service was not all too friendly nor "great". I like to give people and companies the benefit of the doubt of having a bad day or bad moment but it seemed as if everyone at Jet Blue was having a bad day on the day that my wife and were flying their airline for the first time. (What's been said about "first impressions"?) Now, I know, when you pay less for service you usually get less but that's not how Jet Blue bills themselves. I quote from their Customer Bill of Rights page: Above all else, JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel. We strive to make every part of your experience as simple and as pleasant as possible. Unfortunately, there are times when things do not go as planned...

I like the words, "humanity" and "your experience as simple and as pleasant as possible." Of course, "
simple and as pleasant" mean different things to different people. Some, just want to arrive safely to their destination and expect nothing else from the airline. Other, such as myself, have an expectation that the airline will provide at the very least, basic customer service. I was surprised when I (my wife included) did not receive even the basics when flying with JetBlue and forget about "pleasant". I appreciate that JetBlue is trying to run a 'budget' airline and I have no complaints about the packaged cookies and crackers they toss (literally) out as meals on a six hour flight to Portland. My disappointment is over the lack of genuine concern and caring not only for another human being but as their customer.

When myself and other passengers waited over seven hours at Miami Airport due to weather, (we think?) to board a plane to JFK, information was sparse at best by the JetBlue staff. When questioned where we could get up to date and detailed information about flight conditions we were told to get a laptop and go onto the FAA website. Yes, the weather is not in the hands of the airline and they want to get home as safely as we do. However, I refer back to their statement,
JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel. We strive to make every part of your experience as simple and as pleasant as possible. What happened to the "simple and as pleasant as possible"? If one of their staff was being pleasant none of us experienced it.

Tired and weary we passengers boarded a plane home. Everyone was too pooped to talk or watch intermittently broadcast reruns of "Andy Griffith" on the ten inch backseat screen. We were just thankful to be leaving Miami and so too, it seemed was the crew.

Upon descent to JFK the crew told us, as opposed to requesting of us that we help them clean up the plane by removing all unwanted items and trash because, get this, they wanted to, "Get home just like you do because it's been a really long day for us." Now, I know what they probably meant to say was, 'we need to turn the plane around as quickly as possible so we can keep JetBlue ticket prices below our competitors'. So, we're asking you, our customers to help clean our planes as an added benefit to forking over your hard earned money.' The experience left an already bitter taste in my mouth and if the mumbles and grumbles from fellow passengers was an indication, I wasn't alone.

We all know that what companies advertise and how they brand themselves does equate to a good customer experience. Verizon comes to mind. They are a communications company who totes themselves as the "most reliable network" and yet, I am unable to pay my DLS bill online - this has been ongoing for five years! Yes, I can pay the bill via the telephone but they will charge me $5 for the privilege. On Verizon's Value's page it reads, The Verizon commitment is to put our customers first by providing excellent service and great communications experiences.

Studies have shown that for every bad or poor customer service experienced the customer will tell a minimum of ten people who tell ten others. I truly wonder how much companies really care about delivering excellent customer service or is it just lip service?

What's the answer? It's simple: companies need to keep their promises. Hire the best people who actually care about others not just because they're customers but because they're human beings. I once asked a surly manager at Best Buy who was refusing to take back the faulty product that I purchased from his store the day before to come out from behind the counter and stand next to me to see how it would feel to be in my position. He refused and yet, he asked me to understand his position.

I love nothing more than telling people about great customer service experiences. Th top of my list includes: Singapore Airlines, Cathy Pacific , Ritz Carlton, SOLE, and Nordstroms . Whatever these companies are doing others should take note and implement the same. I like sharing excellent customer service experiences and would like nothing more than to say, "They're fantastic! You must fly them!'
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