My family and I attended one of the most amazing weddings in New Jersey this June. My parents flew in on American Airlines, I flew in on my old friend, Southwest Airlines and my sister tried a new airline – JetBlue. I’ve not yet had that the pleasure of travelling on JetBlue, but my pal Smitty is a pilot for the airline, so they enjoy a positive mindshare due to our friendship.
Curiously, I asked my sister, Laura, her thoughts of the airline. “It’s fine.” I responded “It’s fine? That’s it!? Don’t they have satellite radio and tv for each seat and new planes?” She agreed that those amenities were all present and nice. As she explained, her issue was her flight attendant or specifically, the attitude of her flight attendant.
During Laura’s flight, the perks of JetBlue were all agreeable and welcomed. Sadly, her first JetBlue brand experience came off as flat as a day old Coke. The flight attendant, as the face of the company, turned a potentially remarkable experience into one that was just passable. It was no longer about the technology and the conveniences for my sister but her emotional connection to the airline because of one flight attendant’s attitude. She moved safely and comfortably from one part of the country to another and that was about it. There was no excitement surrounding her experience. This is not to say that JetBlue isn’t a great airline with passionate people, it just happened that my sister wasn’t able to tell a great story about them due to this.
We have all had similar experiences to those my sister had. Our expectations of a brand can be different from the actual experience due to the interactions with a person. Is it possible that this flight attendant was usually fantastic and was simply having a bad day? You bet. It happens to you and to the best of your people. Is it possible that this flight attendant had an attitude that was not fitting for the brand and culture of the company? Potentially. There are simply not enough facts to determine the answer. Considerations can be made, though to reduce these potential branding issues. As Zappos and Rackspace know, it is critically important to your company and brand experience to hire the right people that fit the culture which helps provide a consistent brand image. To take it a step further, companies can build the right teams and systems to support those people that project your brand image.
Anticipate bad days, because unfortunately, negatives in life happen. How can you develop your team to further care for one another so that when those unexpected days pop up, your team is ready to pick up the slack for the member of the team? If procedures aren’t in place, will you take this opportunity to help tow the line for the team? You can lend a hand and share an encouraging word. It makes the world a better place, it builds community between you and your team as well as goodwill for the day you might need a helping hand. I challenge you to do more than your share.
photo by SpackleToe