JetBlue Keeps on Top of 50,000 Customer Concerns

Customer Service
Customer Service

What's the next step for a company that's built a reputation on customer experience? Improving service even further by acting on customer feedback, according to Bryan Jeppsen, senior analyst, customer feedback, at JetBlue.

"When we started nearly 10 years ago, amenities like leather seats and individual TVs were unique," Jeppsen says. "Now it's no longer that uncommon. The big challenge for us going forward was to get a handle on all the feedback we get-to listen to all our customers."

No easy task, given that the New York-based airline receives feedback via customer surveys, emails, and a variety of other means. "We had all this unstructured data, and no manpower to handle it," Jeppsen says.

The situation was further exacerbated by the now-infamous February 2007 incident when an ice storm led to nearly 1,000 canceled flights over five days. "We received 30,000 emails over two days during that time," Jeppsen says, "and we did not have enough people to read them all."

The incident ultimately led to the creation of JetBlue's "Customer Bill of Rights," designed to curtail or eliminate undue waiting times, among other things. Key to creating the Bill of Rights was JetBlue's ability to sift through those thousands of emails, using Attensity's Voice of the Customer (VoC) text analytics solution, to pinpoint the most commonly raised issues.

That experience, in turn, prompted JetBlue to use the VoC software to analyze customer feedback stored in unstructured text formats, such as call center notes, blogs, and other customer communications, including the nearly 500 emails the airline receives every day. "JetBlue customers are very willing to tell us their opinions," Jeppsen says, noting that on average, the airline also receives 40,000 survey responses per month, with roughly half of those including written comments. "Realistically, someone can read 100, maybe 200, of those a month, but it's a lot better to look at every single one and know why our Net Promoter Score is going up or down."

Jeppsen says JetBlue will use the software to proactively manage and analyze all freeform customer feedback to improve service, marketing, sales, and the products they offer, with the airline's customer service reps culling insights and actions from customer feedback on a daily basis.

While JetBlue is currently mining the past year's worth of feedback, Jeppsen says some issues are already being addressed using the new system. "We're able to track complaints by plane tail number, which shows us which planes have the least problems and which ones have the most," he says. "There's nothing worse than being stuck on a five-hour flight and not being able to access your TV. Now operations knows which planes to look at. Before, we had to depend on pilots and in-flight crews to make notes, which of course isn't as reliable."

JetBlue expects to roll out the VoC solution to all of its employees as well, Jeppsen adds. "We want them to feel their voice is important, too," he says. "And we very much subscribe to the idea that if our employees are happy, our customers will be happy."