How JetBlue’s Twitter Takes Customer Service to a New Level
Their empathy is uncanny, but it’s working
When I was in college, I took a course called Peer Support. In it, I learned a lot of skills that helped me help my friends — actively listening without judgment, reflecting back to ensure comprehension, acknowledging gratitude, and admitting mistakes in a way that let us move past them. It helped me cement my friendships and it still helps me today. Friends come to me with their problems because they know I’m ready to listen.
I’m thinking Laurie Meacham, who’s in charge of JetBlue’s social media, has taken the same course.
Unlike other Twitter account reviews I’ve done in the past, this account doesn’t stand out from a general feed perspective. It has pretty generic ads, offering fun ideas for destinations and flights. The humor is cutesy, but nothing like the scathing wit of Wendy’s, or the clever marketing efforts of Netflix. It’s nice and sweet and might convince people to buy, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
And then I clicked on Tweets & Replies.
This is where JetBlue really stands out — their unwavering, unflinching dedication to customer support via Twitter. Time and time again, they jump into the fray: readily admitting to their faults, thanking people for getting in touch, and offering solutions.
And honestly? It’s working.
Customer Support on Social Media Is Hard
I learned this in my Peer Support class. Face-to-face support is easier — you get body language cues, tone of voice, and facial expression. You can say you’re listening with just a look in your eyes.
Supporting people through Facebook Messenger requires you to engage in conversation, or else it can make the person seeking support feel like they’re talking too much when they see that big wall of text they’ve just sent.
“We’re all about people, and being on social media is just a natural extension of that. “— Laurie Meacham, JetBlue’s social media wiz.
On social media, people expect an instant reply. Despite the fact that it takes time to gather resources, answers, and solutions, customers often demand someone reply to them in real-time.
Not to mention, people on Twitter can be the worst — the anonymity combined with the enormous potential of a platform can turn people into dicks.
And yet, JetBlue, in its wisdom, persists in being a kind, gracious, attentive denizen of Twitter.
A tenet of supporting people — whether they’re your pals or disgruntled customers — is to make them feel heard.
I was coached to use language like, “It sounds like you’re feeling X,” and “Tell me more about Y,” as a way to let whoever I was speaking with know that I was listening and that I cared about understanding them.
JetBlue does exactly that, ensuring that its customers are listened to. They’re transparent about what they can and can’t do. Even if it’s out of their power to do anything (as is often the case where weather conditions and engineering issues are completely out of the hands of the support team) JetBlue continues to acknowledge the trouble, disappointment, and hardships their customers face, whether from a delay or not having popcorn on the flight.
Listening and acknowledging can make all the difference.
Know When to Escalate
JetBlue’s support team has an excellent grasp of when to resolve things themselves, and when they needed to escalate the concern.
In Peer Support, we were taught it’s human nature to think we can solve everything ourselves. We feel like we need to fix our friends’ problems, and that referring them to a specialist means we’ve failed. Regardless, we were taught the signs of when our friends should be referred.
Knowing where to send the people who come to you for help is one of the biggest and most important things you can do.
JetBlue seems to operate under the same principle. Although referring people to another person or department is different than referring them to a therapist — it’s the same premise.
Whether it’s a compliment, a complaint, or a problem, JetBlue’s support team ensures they take it as far as they’re able, but absolutely no further.
It’s difficult to manage this without making the customer feel like you’re handing them off to get rid of them — especially with negative feedback — but JetBlue manages this with a surprising amount of aplomb.
By acknowledging the problem themselves, though they can do nothing about it, they ensure the customer feels heard.
Companies say they’re all about people. It’s easy to say and harder to fulfill online, especially through the faulty medium of Twitter. JetBlue is one of those companies that actually put their money where their mouth is — spending time and energy doing the thankless task of support online.