NPS Blog

The crisis test of a company culture

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

My colleague and book co-author Rob Markey tells a great story about what a difference it makes when a company has engaged, passionate employees—people who really care about customers.

Rob was on a cruise with his family just when a hurricane began moving up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The cruise line kept adjusting its routes and schedule, and Rob had to rebook his flights home—twice. The second time, though, the storm had jammed JetBlue’s lines and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to get through before his ship had to leave its current port of call. So he tweeted his frustration. “I was venting,” he says. “I didn’t expect any response.”

But he quickly got a reply tweet from a JetBlue customer service rep named Kathy, who asked for his phone number. Kathy called and helped Rob rebook, with no change fee. And then came the real stunner: Kathy asked him if she could refund the change fee he paid for the earlier rebooking.

Wow. I haven’t dealt with many service reps as helpful as Kathy.

As Rob points out, it’s crises like storms that really test a company’s culture. Too many of us get poor information and rude treatment just when we’re most vulnerable. But companies such as JetBlue make customer service a real priority, regardless of the situation. To make sure it happens, they hire and train carefully, and they reinforce the message every day. Critically, they also gather regular feedback from employees so that they can fix issues that get in the way of wowing customers.

When he tells the story, Rob acknowledges that he “sounds like a commercial” for JetBlue. But isn’t that every company’s dream—customers who are wildly enthusiastic, and who tell every friend in sight how great the company is?

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