For anyone that needed to fly JetBlue this past week, it was a tough ride…
Ice storms in the northeast grounded many flights and caused JetBlue to suffer a ‘cascade failure’ in its flight operations. Scheduled crews couldn’t get to their destinations, and available crews couldn’t be quickly matched to flights, causing additional cancelations. These operational cancelations, on top of the weather related ones, ended up overwhelming customer support staff causing extreme frustration for customers and a meltdown in communications internally.
They are just now getting back to a normal schedule…
David Neeleman, JetBlue’s founder and CEO has been confronted with significant bad press, and the potential for significant defections from once loyal customers. In addition to reaching out to customers via traditional media channels like newspapers and television, he has also actively used the web to connect with them:
He has posted an apology on the JetBlue website, and has included a YouTube based video taking direct ownership of the problems folks encountered and outlining his plan to address the most serious operational issues that surfaced:
This video was embedded on JetBlue’s site on the page outlining their ‘Customer Bill Of Rights’:
JetBlue Airways exists to provide superior service in every aspect of our customer’s air travel experience. In order to reaffirm this commitment, we set forth this Bill of Rights for our customers. These Rights will always be subject to the highest level of safety and security for our customers and crewmembers.
While I’m sure it will take some time (if ever) for those affected by this situation to return to the airline, seeing the head of a major company reaching out to people directly over the internet is a good thing, especially given the tough situation he needs to deal with. Seeing him use video in a direct and personal way is also very positive. When issues come up, I want to see the person at the top and have them address me directly. I don’t want missives from spokespeople. The embedded video used here does a good job of that. Consumer connecting technologies like YouTube should be a part of every organization’s public relation’s initiatives – in both bad and good times.
At the end of the day, the web is just a means of reaching out. Regardless of the technology used to deliver it, communicating the message is only the first step. JetBlue will also need to deliver on the promises they are making. They will need to reestablish their credibility in the marketplace.
And by reaching out in this way, David Neeleman has made reestablishing credibility something personal…