JetBlue is listening, but are they able to do anything about what they hear?
Well, JetBlue is clearly listening to what's being said about them online -- see Jenny Dervin's comment on my previous post. Points for walking the social media talk. And this cranky blogger certainly appreciates attention being paid to my posts. Especially since I informally track how well companies are listening to what it being said about them online.
But, are they able to do anything about what they hear?
Corp Comm may be listening, but you wouldn't know it from communicating with customer service. Here are the disconnects over the past day that lead me to conclude that the airline has a significant customer service problem.
First, the initial email, part of which is reproduced in my earlier post, definitely pushes the customer to accept the rebooking. The option to reschedule is below the BIG ORANGE BUTTON, and you can't do that online. You have to call.
Which I did, as reported in my earlier post. Mostly to complain. The customer service rep also suggested I leave a comment on the website. So I did, repeating most of the points from my Monday post.
Points for speediness. JetBlue replied back almost immediately. And that brings us to the next set of problems. Here's the email.
New concerns, in order of appearance in the email:
- What do caps placed on flights to/from New York have to do with my original flight plan, which was roundtrip Boston to San Francisco?
- Whoa Nellie. I had the option of canceling these flights?And getting a full refund? How come this is the first I've heard of it?
- Finally -- I don't exactly recall choosing to keep the 1:35 pm flight.
So I sent another email to customer service. Here are my exact words:
In fact, I deliberately did not push the BIG ORANGE button because I needed time to explore my alternatives.
Here's the reply to to that email. I dare you to find an actual answer to any of my questions. In fact, as my son would say, I double-dog dare you.
The apology is lovely. Really. And I do appreciate Jenny Dervin's offer of assistance. But I still would have liked someone in Customer Service to answer my questions, not just pull some standard verbiage out of the manual. I get that the airline can change the schedule any way it wishes and there is very little I can do about it.
But... Once you start engaging with your customers online, as JetBlue is doing on Twitter and in responding to bloggers, we are going to expect the same level of honesty and yes, transparency, in our other transactions with you.
So, why not tell me why? I can guess at the answers.
Why wasn't I given the opportunity to select a new itinerary in the first place, given the major shift in time represented by the rebooked itinerary?
- The system is set up to handle things in one standard way, rebook and email. Doesn't matter if the time shift is 10 minutes or 10 hours. As Jenny Dervin commented on my previous post: "We do an auto-rebook when we have a schedule change, because it locks a seat in on the other flight, and it's definately something we can change if the rebooking doesn't work out."
Why wasn't the option to cancel presented to me upfront?
- They don't want you to cancel. They just want you to take the rebooking.
What in the world does New York have to do with flights to Boston?
- Flight consolidation. They can sell out the JFK flight, and travellers to other destinations will suck it up and take the connection. I just screw things up by planning so far ahead.
Since I can figure it out, wouldn't it be better to just tell me? And in the case of the cancel option, make sure it is in the very first communication about the change, if not for all changes, those that represent more than 3-4 hours difference?
Since Jenny had reached out to me, I wanted to give her, and JetBlue, an opportunity to comment. I forwarded her the draft post, so she could see the unsatisfactory emails from customer service. She called about an hour later.
Note: my post is unchanged except for this conclusion.
We discussed my concerns and she told me that she intended to forward my post, once published, to the head of customer service as an example of how important it is to fully read the email and answer the customer's question, not simply reply fast.
She also told me about a flight option, a red-eye out of Oakland, that has essentially the same times as the original flight we booked out of SFO: depart Oakland at 10:30 pm and arrive BOS at 7:02 am the next morning. We both agreed that this should have been provided as an option by one of the three customer service reps who touched my reservation over the past 24 hours. It wasn't.
The message for JetBlue? Your Corp Comm group and your Twitter guy are representing you well online. Your customer service team has got to catch up, and walk the same talk. Just tell us the truth. Customers, with a few really nasty exceptions, are generally nice people. We want to like you, because we don't like the big guys. We're also not stupid, and pretty much understand the game as played. We just want to be able to trust that you are playing fair.
Because, you know, I get it. With the rising cost of fuel, it makes no sense for there to be two basically equivalent red-eyes out of the Bay Area to Boston. One's enough. We just want to be on it.
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