Like one of tens of thousands of people traveling this past holiday season, I had booked a JetBlue flight for the day after Christmas to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. However, Mother Nature had other plans. A storm that quickly produced between 12 and 32 inches of snow fell on many areas of the North East that eventually caused the cancellation of some 10,000 flights. It certainly earned its titles as the “Snowpocalypse,” or “Snowmaggeddon” of 2010. This was the view out my window:
The morning of my flight, an automated text message to my mobile phone from JetBlue confirmed that my flight was, expectantly, canceled. So, like most people, my first instinct was to take to the phones. When I called JetBlue’s customer service 800-number, a warm-toned prerecorded message greeted me only to inform me that due to high call volume, it was unable to keep me on hold and asked me to call back at a later time.
Doing my best not to feel I was hung up on, I took it in stride knowing full well what it’s like to get jammed with calls on a busy day at work – I figured this couldn’t compare. So, I figured I could Tweet about it – mostly with the intention to whine about my dire luck and wondering what would happen next. Instead, I had a revelatory experience in customer service!
On Twitter, a JetBlue rep asked me to Direct Message (DM) them my confirmation number. Once I did, 18 short minutes later they had not only replied via DM that the flight had been re-booked to my new specifications, the confirmation email had already hit my email inbox. In less than 140 characters – easiest flight rebooking ever!
Shocked by the speed and ease, I thanked them profusely! Always professional and courteous, they replied:
“You’re welcome. Happy Holidays! ^kb”
The next day, with John F. Kennedy airport still not in the clear, my re-booked flight had also been canceled. This time, instead of calling, I went straight to Twitter! Armed with the knowledge of flight numbers – easily accessible on their website – I asked if I could once again be re-booked, to which the same rep replied:
“Man, you have had a rough day! We’re on it. ^kb ”.
With that, 17 minutes later I was sent an update:
“You just got the last seat on that flight! Confirmation has been emailed (again). Let us know if we can help in any other way. ^kb.”
I told them not only how grateful I was and commented on how they were probably working around the clock, not sleeping.
“We’re working very hard to take care of our customers. I will sleep when everyone has been taken care of. Smiles. ^kb,” replied the JetBlue Twitter rep.
I wish the weather and local airport logistics had cooperated more but the next day it didn’t get any better and once again, I had to rebook yet another canceled flight, which had now cut my original trip short 4 days. So, a different JetBlue rep thought to ask me via the same Twitter account:
“Are you okay on the return flight? ^co”
When was the last time an airline contacted you for no other reason than to make sure you were still perfectly happy – for free?
A total of 4 flight re-schedules were done for me, each in less than 20 minutes, by 5 different customer service representatives, who each signed what I assume are their initials. The last two rebooks, I did on my iPhone while grocery shopping and cooking dinner, as though I were text messaging an old friend.
My trip to Austin eventually went off without too many more delays, once again letting me take for granted things like roomier leather seats on coach, and DirecTV for everyone. Since I pretty much only fly JetBlue these days, I tend to forget that other airlines don’t offer what I’ve come to think of as common sense expectations.
A few days after my return to New York, along with all other passengers affected by the “Snowpocalypse,” I received an email from Robin Hayes, Chief Commercial Officer for JetBlue Airways that partly read:
“As a token of our appreciation for your patience during last week’s snowstorm when we canceled your flight, please accept 10,000 TrueBlue points which you can apply toward future travel to any JetBlue destination.”
If I add those to my existing points, I got a free round trip ticket to Austin anytime! I’m more than satisfied; I am fairly star-struck by this rock-star quality treatment! By any conventional means, JetBlue has no responsibility to provide such perks to assuage climate disruptions. But the fact is that they did; that’s what I call a phenomenal customer experience.
So, I’m excited to hear what Vicky Stennes, VP of In-flight Experience for JetBlue Airways has to tell us at “Next Generation Customer Experience.” She signed on to speak at the May 23-25th California-based conference, long before any of this went down.
As far as the Twitterverse is concerned, I want to say thank you to “KB,” “CO,” “JJ,” “SS” and “JMB” @JetBlue, who in a time of dire circumstances around the air travel industry are certainly doing their part to keep this loyal customer’s experience a happy one!
Online Creative Director
Worldwide Business Research USA LLC