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Employee Empowerment Culture … A Story of JetBlue's Customer Experience

 Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.  It is what the client or customer gets out of it.

-  Peter Drucker


This is a story of JetBlue’s customer experience strategy built on its employee empowerment culture.  I experienced it first hand and was duly impressed.


The story started a while back while I was sitting on the runway in Orlando as my homeward-bound Jet Blue flight was about to taxi toward takeoff.  Like just about every other flight that hadn’t already been canceled that day on the Eastern seaboard, ours was a couple of hours late departing.   The lead flight attendant gets on the P.A. system and says something very close to:


“Ladies and Gentlemen, we know we’re late taking off, and even though it’s the weather and not something we caused, we’re going to comp everybody’s movies for this flight.  We know you’ve all had a long day and we want it to end with something nice and relaxing.  And for those of you who were supposed to be on the Continental flight and ended up here, we don’t ever want you to go back.”


The mood on the flight — which could have been a rather dreary late evening affair — took an immediate upswing.  People joked and smiled and made eye contact.   They were noticeably brighter and calmer as the flight progressed.   And I’m writing about the experience today and business travelers are reading about it. 


What enabled this relatively small act of kindness and allowed it to become a major brand statement?   Midflight, I went to the back of the plane and asked.   I wanted to know the policy that allowed a flight attendant to make such a call.


“We’re allowed to make almost any decision,” the flight attendant explained, “as long as we can justify it on the basis of one of the airline’s five core values: Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun or Passion.   If we can tie doing something back to one of these principles, the decision is going to be supported by the company.” 


What JetBlue is saying to its employees … “If you act in support of the values that really matter to our business, we want you to take risks in order to care for our customers.”


This is a very simple concept, eh?  But how many of us put such a thing into practice with our own people.  Sit down today with your employees and do what Jet Blue did. Start building your employee empowerment culture today.

Create a culture of empowerment based on the values that YOUR business is built on.

Do you have an similar experiences to share?


Read more:


A Story of Amazon and Listening to Customer Inputs

How Much Does Customer Response Time Matter?

Is Your Staff Flexible in its Service … a Story of P.F. Chang’s Restaurant    


Call Digital Spark Marketing for a free consultation today … we’ll be happy to share more  ideas on customer experience and customer service.

To read more resources on customer experience, click here.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Arthur Fox  (Founder And Chief Innovation Leader  at Innovation Global Network ) on Nov 25th, 2012

There are several dynamics that oftne prevent this from happening.  It is common for people in a supervisory capacity to feel they have superior or broader experience, knowledge and judgement.  This leads them to closely manage the activities and decisions of their subordinates in order to ensure a better outcome.  In fairness, sometimes they are correct.  That is why I stated that responsibility Unfortunately, these people often overestimate their capacities in this regard.  I knew a VP Marketing that felt he was an expert on advertising, but displayed poor judgement in practice. Some people feel that since they will be held responsible and accountable for the success of the work done in their areas, they need to miicromanage the work done by their subordinates.  Some organizations stress that Managers and Leaders need to display leadership and the ability tio make judgements which motivates their employees to display their leadership and  judgement on all significant decisions.  Many people feel insecure, particularly these days, and are concerned that they will appear to be superfluous and unneeded if all the important work is done by those beneath them.
Posted by: Marcelo Graziani  on Nov 25th, 2012

 It's simple and logical, but why companies don't use it?
Mike Schoultz replied to Marcelo Graziani  on Nov 29th, 2012

Certainly agree with Arthurs comments ... I'll add that small businesses often get hung up with losing control ... while big companies get hung up on too much formality in their busness process.

Posted by: Mike Schoultz  (Owner, Principal  at Digital Spark Marketing ) on Nov 14th, 2012

 Absolutely no arguments from me ... surprising the number of businesses who don't follow this practice (but won't argue visuably with the discussion).
Posted by: Arthur Fox  (Founder And Chief Innovation Leader  at Innovation Global Network ) on Nov 14th, 2012

I strongly believe that responsibility should be pushed down to the lowest level that can exercise that responsibility well.  Those who are closest to the customer usually understand their needs best, particularly in fluid situations like the one you describe.  When this is executed well, very positive benefits can accrue to the organization.
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Best Practice POV submitted by
Mike Schoultz
Mike Schoultz
Owner, Principal
at Digital Spark Marketing
Merritt Island, Florida
United States
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