JetBlue's 4 Keys to Voice of the Customer

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
The airline listens to, measures, analyzes, and acts on customer insight to ensure that it stays on the (flight) path to customer experience excellence.

JetBlue Airways' mission is to bring humanity back to air travel. "How do we know if are? Our customers will tell us," said Bonny Simi, director of customer experience and analytics for the airline.

During her keynote presentation at the recent Allegiance 2011 Engage Summit, Simi shared the four elements of JetBlue's approach to voice of the customer (VoC):

1. Listen across many channels

2. Have a common language for interaction and measurement

3. Use analytics to inform decisions and drive prioritization

4. Create actionable insight

Listen across many channels

The core of JetBlue's VOC program is the 50,000 surveys the airline sends each month. The company also listens to customers via unsolicited email, social, postal mail, etc. "In general, if someone emails, they're not happy," Simi said, adding that the company receives, and responds to, about 30,000 to 40,000 emails per month. "Email is a great source for identifying pain points."

In the case of Twitter, customers are often talking about, not to, the airline. "Often we're just mentioned in conversation," she said. Whether tweets are directed specifically to @jetblue, note #jetblue within them, or just comment on JetBlue as part of a conversation, Twitter is a great source of customer sentiment, Simi said. With 1.6 million followers, and a dedicated team of 20 to interact with customers there, it's also a potentially powerful channel for engagement.

In addition, JetBlue uses several social media tracking and analytics tools to consolidate comments from across the social web and "make sense of it all," Simi added. JetBlue uses OpinionLab to gather feedback on the airline's website, mostly about the site. This is essential, Simi said, because 70 percent of ticket sales come through its site.

Operational data is also a "listening post." Through that information the airline knows whether a customer's flight was late, where the customer was traveling to and from, whether he's a member of the TrueBlue loyalty program, etc. Tying that information to customers' emails and survey responses "is a rich source of information," Simi said.

Employees provide invaluable feedback, as well. Simi's team regularly asks contact center employees, for example, what customers are calling about. The plan is to tie contact center analytics to the other sources of data in the near future.

Have a common language for interaction and measurement

JetBlue uses Net Promoter Score (NPS) as its core measurement tool for customer satisfaction. Scores are part of the compensation for salaried crewmembers (JetBlue calls all employees crewmembers). "It makes people want to improve," Simi said, adding that although NPS may not be the perfect measure, it's actionable. The company measures NPS daily based in part on the 1,500 survey responses and 3,000 or so tweets it tracks each day.

Use analytics to inform decisions and drive prioritization

"We're swimming in data but thirsty for information," Simi said. "How do you make sense of it?" Analytics.

JetBlue analyzes structured data first, and then adds text analytics, including using Attensity for natural language text analysis. Plus Simi's team does some manual categorization of the information. The results help to inform decisions, for example, reevaluating satisfaction surveys themselves to see what might need to be changed. The results also guide prioritization. For instance, airline executives assumed that because customers spend, on average, three hours with flight attendants, that flight attendants are the most influential part of the customer experience. In fact, through VoC the airline learned that the airport experience is more influential, and more likely to be a pain point. Consequently, improving that experience became the priority.

Additionally, VOC analysis helps the airline track changing customer demographics. Currently, the airlines largest customer groups are leisure travelers and snowbirds. However, analysis shows growth among business travelers. In fact, tracking NPS helped JetBlue to reverse poor scores in Boston and, as a result, has seen business travel increase there from 10 to 20 percent of passengers.

Create actionable insight

For JetBlue, the collection and analysis of VOC data has one goal: action. The airline uses VOC to drive customer experience and operational improvements. The data also drives accountability and behavior. If an airport receives a low NPS, for example, Simi's team and other key constituents (e.g., the airline's operations director for the airport in question) will do a deep dive into the data to learn specifically what elements of the experience customers are unhappy about and draft a plan to fix the issues. They'll also examine the data to see which airports excel in the problem areas for the one airport, so they can share best practices.

"No one wants to be at the bottom of the bar chart," Simi said, referring to the list of NPS scores by airport performance.

In terms of behavior, Simi and her team will share data with managers that they can use to coach and mentor their teams based on specific opportunities for improvement in areas that are important to customers, or make changes to customer-facing processes. For instance, data showed that customers care about communication, specifically, the pilot greeting. In one recent analysis NPS was 83 percent when there was "an outstanding greeting" and only 47 percent when there was no greeting. When the senior executives share this insight with pilots, the pilots are then more inclined to deliver an outstanding greeting every time.

Listening to and acting on the voice of the customer has helped JetBlue maintain an NPS of about 60 to 70 percent in an industry that averages an NPS of about 15 percent. Now that's a (flight) path to success.