Having a strategic crisis communication plan is essential in maintaining a company brand. As soon as crisis hits, a company’s reputation can be changed forever if not handled properly. One example of dealing with crisis successfully is the airline company, JetBlue. Luckily they managed to save their brand’s reputation, but it took many necessary steps to make that possible.
Valentine’s Day 2007 started off as any other normal day for JetBlue Airways. The company was known for their extraordinary customer service. However, that was all changed after an ice storm left customers stuck on their flight with no plan to take off for 11 straight hours.
The “Jet Blue Flies South” article explains more background information on the crisis itself, but it is important to take note of what problems came out of this incident for JetBlue and how they managed to overcome them.
With approximately 1,100 flights canceled within 6 days following the crisis, many customers expressed negative feelings towards the company with the help of social media. One passenger, Genevieve McCaw, created a blog called jetbluehostage.com after referring to herself as one of JetBlue’s “hostages.” So the question is, how did JetBlue resolve this?
First, JetBlue acted fast. They knew they couldn’t waste any time so they created the Customer Bill of Rights. This is a program that requires the company to communicate with customers about any delays, cancellations or any other problems in advance before their flight is scheduled to leave. They also became aware that an advanced contingency plan must be formed. With that idea, they came up with all types of emergency scenarios that they could be faced with and how they will handle those ahead of time. Another action JetBlue took, and probably one of the best steps was having CEO David Neelman holding the company accountable to the public by acknowledging their mistakes and how they are going to fix it. Neelman delivered a personal public statement through YouTube openly admitting that they made a mistake. The message was effective in connecting with their customers and assuring them that they are doing anything possible to make sure this mistake won’t happen again.
Watch the video that David Neelman delivered following the Valentine’s Day disaster. At 0:54, Neelman gives an outline of the company promise, which will be put into effect within the next couple days.
Companies that are faced with crisis would benefit from having their CEO addressing the situation with the public. It shows that the brand is transparent and values their customers’ first and foremost.
By: Stephanie Strickland