Contributor: Katie Karpinski
Over the past several weeks, our country has been pushed to the limit. With two historical hurricanes and hundreds of reported wildfires, the recent natural disasters have left people, and companies, questioning their next steps. With mandatory evacuation orders, the demand for airlines greatly increased. While some companies were accused of price gauging flights during this time, others, such as the airline JetBlue, were praised for their support and dedication to customers. JetBlue placed a price cap on all flights out of Florida ($99 for direct, $156 for connecting including tax). The same cap was also placed on the surrounding states, and even the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. JetBlue also waived any cancellation or rescheduling fees, and increased the number of flights out of the impacted areas. Tesla is another good example, waiving the fee for Tesla owners to receive additional battery chargers to ensure that a single charge would get them out of Irma’s range. Now, after the storm has passed, both Tesla and JetBlue have experienced a rise in stock value and an overwhelming amount of public support and recognition. So, how is it that these companies were able to increase their stock value in the midst of a natural disaster? They put customers first.
Unless you’re stuck in the 1950’s Madmen world of marketing, many of us know that companies must be customer-centric. Customers are finally starting to capitalize on their immense bargaining power. When once companies could push products on customers, now customers push companies for better products and services. More than ever, firms need to keep customer satisfaction up if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. Having a customer-centric approach is no simple undertaking, but Tesla and JetBlue certainly have it figured out!
So what can we learn from these two companies? It can be broken down into three basic principles: Listen, act, and commit. Let’s take a closer look…
Tesla only waived the charging fee after a customer called in to ask. JetBlue placed the price cap after monitoring social media and seeing that users weren’t able to book flights due to increased rates. Both companies listened to their customer base and acted appropriately. Keeping an ear to the ground and finding exactly what customers want from your business is key to generating profit and customer loyalty in the long run.
While not all situations may have the time crunch of an incoming hurricane, acting quickly on customer needs is important. It goes without saying that our world is one of constant change, and even more so do customer preferences change. Acting upon customer requests and concerns swiftly assures that your firm stays on top of its competitive game.
Okay, so you’ve listened, you’ve acted. Now what? Do you think that Hurricane Irma was a “one and done” deal for Tesla and JetBlue? No! Having a customer-centric approach isn’t something that comes and goes—for it to truly work it is something you must adopt as a core company standard. You need to commit to your customers, not just in times of crisis, but constantly.