A few weeks ago, we followed the well documented fiasco of nine JetBlue planes that sat on the tarmac at JFK for six hours or more.
A colleague and I stared that same prospect down en route to NY last night and I can tell you, a $25 voucher was somehow not going to cut it.
This time however, EVERYTHING was different, and it turned a potential disaster into an Exceptional Experience.
The Captain personally makes the announcement; that although the airplane is fully functional and ready to leave, he’s not been clearance to push back by Air Traffic Control because of "negative weather conditions".
There is going to be a 100min delay and he was sorry, because there is nothing he could do.
He gives us 2 options:
a. Sit tight, he’ll crank up the AC to make us feel more comfortable. The attendants have agreed to begin beverage service, and we were free to use electronics. He even offered his personal cell-phone, for anyone needing to make alternative arrangements.
b. Deplane and be back at the new departure time.
The plane eventually departed on time after the 100 min delay. The pilot came out again and he had been online and although the "stated reason" by ATC was weather, he disagreed, because he had first-hand knowledge of the conditions on the previous flight.
What made this an Exceptional Experience:
What made this an EE:
- We got honest communication from the person in charge. Leadership is the reduction of uncertainty in organizations, and it comes from clear messages, which lead to focused actions.
- He gave us options. Each one was free to choose, and although neither ultimately solved our problem of getting to NY, at least we did not feel helpless, or trapped.
- Show a little empathy. He made it personal by saying that this was his last segment and, he too, wanted to get home to NY.
Any company can be judged by this simple rule – Show me the human systems that support your mission statement and values. You’ll be surprised how often these don’t connect. (Integrity and Respect were two of Enron’s five values.)
It became clear to us that this was a company that took recent negative events seriously and made a ton of changes to their Standard Operating Procedures. They took the initiative to create a customer bill of rights is LONG overdue in an industry that has a notoriously low bar for service.
They’re putting teeth to this by refunding customers when it’s their fault when a flight is delayed.
Their actions last night did more to win our loyalty than ANY offer or, advertising ever could.
Sometimes you win customers NOT by what you promise, but by the ACTIONS you take when things go wrong.