Gaining Altitude

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JetBlue Airways has had its fair share of stormy skies lately (see "JetBlue's Service Flies South," in Insight); however, the airline has proven that with intelligent customer service programs, unfortunate incidents do not need to detract from long-term service success. Through a customer communication Web self-service initiative powered by KANA, JetBlue is soaring with a customer satisfaction plan that is planted firmly on the ground.

On its Web site JetBlue promotes the message that the company "exists to provide superior service in every aspect of its customers' air travel experience." However, as the company continued to expand the customer base, the number of inquiries the airline received grew exponentially as well. JetBlue's standard of service became more and more difficult to maintain. As employing thousands more contact center agents was not a viable option, JetBlue decided that it needed to help its customers help themselves. Having implemented KANA Response in 2000 with notable success (a 77 percent accuracy rate in addressing its customers' needs in real time), the airline decided on KANA IQ to enable it to reach this goal.

Because KANA IQ, a contact center and Web self-service solution, could be integrated with KANA Response, an email and e-service solution, JetBlue expected the implementation of IQ to improve the efficiency of how customers used both of the tools. However, before JetBlue could get to that point the company went through a careful implementation process. Jason Ward, the director of customer feedback, says, "The biggest thing I heard in the beginning from my team was, 'That's just the way the IQ product is designed. We can't put the text above that line; the search box has to be above here.'"

After investing a good deal of time with the customer feedback team as well as specialists from KANA, JetBlue was able to not only work past formatting difficulties, but fully rebrand KANA IQ to fit the airline's customer messaging. JetBlue dubbed the new service AskBlue and infused the formatting with the airline's brand. The service went live in June 2006. The results were a great relief for the company's service agents and increased customer satisfaction. With any Web self-service initiative there is always the concern that customers will continue to opt for live, personal assistance. To combat this issue, says Michelle Hansen, manger of customer feedback at the airline, when the product was implemented "We removed some of the help-me links. It forced our customers to try and experiment with it first."

JetBlue soon found that its customers were not only willing to help themselves, but many preferred it. With 80 percent of JetBlue customers already using the Web site to book flights, most felt comfortable maneuvering around the site to get their questions answered. Almost immediately after implementation, JetBlue saw a 40 percent decrease in email volume. Additionally, the integration between IQ and Response ensured that customer inquiries that could not be answered through AskBlue would be immediately forwarded to an agent. The implementation and integration decreased customer response time from up to five days to same-day response.
JetBlue's customer service program has led to agent relief, customer satisfaction, and garnered the company the top ranking spot in the J.D. Power and Associates Airline Customer Satisfaction Study in both 2005 and 2006. Hansen says, "We can give our customers what they've wanted: easy access to the easy questions. Because we are able to manage our email volume, we can allow [our agents] to do what humans do best, to answer questions and offer some emotion."

The Payoff
By implementing KANA IQ, JetBlue has:

  • seen a 40 percent decrease in customer service emails;
  • been named the top ranking firm in the 2005 and 2006 J.D. Power and Associates Airline Customer Satisfaction studies; and
  • had decreased turnaround of response for customer inquiry from five days to same-day.
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