Jetblue set out to provide its customers with a great airlines experience. Neeleman’s goal was to provide customers with “the types of amenities reserved for the pricier carriers, including wider seats ……and 24 channels of in-flight television” ( Case study pg 400) One of Jetblue and Neeleman’s biggest challenges was to keep offering all these amenities while still competing with the big carriers by keeping their prices 50 to 60 percent lower on the same routes. As they grew and hired more employees they found it harder to maintain the same level of customer service across the board. Also other carriers began to compete with them in the lowprice arena. These bigger airlines had more planes and employees to they were better able to respond to the storm that blanketed New York in 2007. This storm proved to ruin many of Jetblues customer experiences due to the delays and cancellations. Jetblue gave all of their customers refunds and free flights in response to the delays.
They were also feeling the effects of the storm longer than their bigger competition since they were understaffed because of pilots being stuck in other states. When the storm hit some flights set on the tarmac for up to ten hours still chancing to be able to leave during the storm. Jetblue could have cancelled these flights earlier and kept customers from having to endure sitting on planes for extended periods of time. If Jetblue had done this then they would have avoided much of the grief they experienced over the next week. Overall Jetblue should have better prepared for the storm by cancelling flights earlier and having extra staff on hand. Whomever was in charge of overall operations should have planned better and is the one who is the most responsible for the lack of preparation.
Jet Blue did a great job handling the severe weather in February of 2007. They went above and beyond trying to compensate for the inconvenience and loss of time that their customers endured. They provided $26 million in refunds and vouchers to their passengers stranded in New York. None of the other major airlines offered compensation or even an apology. Even at the companies all time low they did an admirable job offering the JetBlue Experience. Although I commend the way JetBlue handled this difficult situation, there were steps that could have been taken to ease the inconvenience of their passengers.
The day before the storm, there were multiple signs of severe weather on the horizon. Snow had already begun to fall and by the early morning the snow became ice pellets and freezing rain. The airline decided to ignore these signs, thus neglecting to warn its passengers of possible delays, resulting in six planes being boarded and ultimately stuck at their gates. Additionally, JetBlue had four incoming planes that should have been directed elsewhere and as a result those planes were unable to reach their terminals because all gates were occupied. If JetBlue would have paid attention to the warning signs and informed their customers, the ten planes and its passengers would have never been stuck at the terminals.
The negative consequences JetBlue could face are primarily PR and financial. During the storm in February, the media was constantly covering JetBlue’s “trapped” customers. Some passengers even went so far as to start a blog called jetblueshostage.com. JetBlue was once known as the leader in service excellence in the airline industry. Now the company is faced with the difficult task of rebuilding its image in the public eye. Directly related to the company’s public image is its stock price. The market lost confidence in JetBlue following the events February of 2007, resulting in the companies stock price falling. In order to get everything back on track the company must first focus on its public image.
In order to deal with the unfortunate quagmire the company had found itself in after the snowstorm in the northeast, JetBlue planned to launch a service guarantee known as the “Customer Bill of Rights” in order to make right what they had wronged. JetBlue announced it would spend $20 to $30 million in effort to appease thousands of stranded customers that were affected. The Bill of Rights works by offering vouchers to customers who experience delayed flights while flying with JetBlue. $25 for flights delayed one to two hours and up to a free round trip ticket for flights delayed up to 6 hours.
Will the Customer’s Bill of Rights work in recovering the image JetBlue has tried so hard to create? In my opinion, yes I do think it will. Angry customers who had to deal with the delays on the initial happening will be provided an entire free ticket, and customers who deal with this in the future will be provided with vouchers or tickets as well. What else can an airline company do, errors happen and some may be out of the company’s control. The company must deal with how the error is handled and that is exactly what JetBlue is doing. Several actions and guidelines should be followed by JetBlue in order to insure the companies viability and future success.
The launch of the Cutover’s Bill or Rights was a good step in the right direction, but company executives must work closely with their public affairs team to raise its awareness. JetBlue executives must also work with marketing executives to promote the Customer Bill of Rights with large stakeholder groups and already existing customers. JetBlue executives must support this bill of rights 100% in order to restore the company’s image. This means following their promise and actually providing vouchers for every single delayed flight. Customer Bill of Rights should also be leveraged as an advantage in comparison to its competitors. Considering JetBlue was the first to implement such a thing, advertising it as an advantage my pull customers in and keep current customers.
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