Tantillo On The News: JetBlue Needs To Remember Its Customers

JetBlue Needs To Remember Its Customers

Given the recent news about JetBlue being named #2 in customer satisfaction rankings, this might seem a strange time for the Marketing Doctor to issue a “branding advisory” but that is just what I am doing because my own experience with this company (and other stories I have heard) tells me that JetBlue has stopped doing the things that got it to #2 –and let’s face it, customer satisfaction ratings can be what economist’s call “lagging indicators” –they’re telling us yesterday’s news!  Also, consider JetBlue’s competition: overall, airlines had 50% more complaints last year than the year prior!  If you want to be the best in your business, you won’t find any comfort in beating mediocre competitors!

Fact is, JetBlue grew fast because of two things: 1) consistently inexpensive fares and 2) passenger perks/comfort.  Their brand filled a distinctive niche!  It was a niche for travellers who didn’t believe that customer-care and decent prices needed to be mutually exclusive!  And JetBlue was a credible brand because its customers believed they were really listening to customer needs and making smart choices that would keep the customer happy on both the service and the price front!

Part of its responsive image was conveyed by its CEO who regularly flew JetBlue and spoke with customers.   He even kept a blog about it.  But I tried to find the blog on the website today and couldn’t (although you can still reach it via a Google search)!  If it’s there, it isn’t easy to find and it should be! 
And that brings me to my recent experiences about this brand…  Specifically, their frequent flyer program and their terminal here at JFK in New York.  First, the terminal –because it could just be a passing hiccup in this brand.  Coming into that terminal  is not a pleasant experience.  In fact, it’s a pretty unpleasant experience!  You fly into a makeshift terminal and then have to endure a cattle drive/obstacle course just to get out from the actual terminal!  Again, this is hopefully temporary, but given that JFK is one of their major terminals… not a good sign!

But a worse sign for this brand is the “gotcha” moment I had with their frequent flyer program.  Basically, my points expired and no one in customer service told me and there was nothing I could do about it!  “Gotcha” moments are the opposite of good customer service and the opposite of the brand image JetBlue has worked so long and hard to cultivate!  Sure a company needs rules to survive, but it needs customers even more!!!

This from the airline that, according to its website, is the first airline to offer a
Passenger Bill of Rights!!!  Let’s hope JetBlue does what needs to be done now to keep its brand on track!  It’s easier to make the brand course correction now then down the road when its alienated its target market like its competitors have been so good at doing with theirs!!!  Stay tuned!

By the way, has Bill Gates finally gotten it?  This just in: Bill Gates says that it’s best that Microsoft and Yahoo follow two “independent paths.”  Here’s the
story.  I wonder if this represents new dynamic branding thinking or is just the result of the failed negotiations between the two companies?!?  We’ll only know if it’s the former, if we start seeing some more solid brand thinking from Gates and Co. in the near future!!!

Remember, it’s always easier when you keep branding in mind!


If you are not re-enforcing your brand strengths, you are weakening your brand!


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