July 12, 2012

A Day in the Life: Customer Support

Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Kristi on our Customer Support team, who has one of the most flexible jobs at JetBlue.

Kristi has the shortest commute of any other workgroup. She sometimes wakes up at 7:45 a.m., brushes her teeth, grabs a cup of joe, and walks into her home office to start her shift at 8 a.m. She slips her headset on, which is hooked up to a phone and a computer, and begins her day as a Customer Support crewmember, taking calls from customers looking to book flights, get answers to JetBlue travel questions, and more.

Kristi is the voice on the other end of the phone. She is one of our 2,100 Customer Support crewmembers in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, 1,800 of whom work from home. The work-from-home model, created during JetBlue’s earliest days as a company, works well for those who seek flexible schedules and the comfort of working from home, and allows us to ramp up or down quickly depending on operational needs. The versatility also allows crewmembers to trade shifts with one another to work around their personal lives, like taking the kids to soccer practice, or for a doctor’s appointment. The demographics of our Customer Support team are diverse and include stay-at-home parents, retirees, college students, and everything in between.

Kristi joined JetBlue nearly seven years ago after a friend recommended the position for its flexible work arrangement and good company ethos. Kristi left her job as a secretary in order to spend more time with her young kids, who are now 13 and 15, but she still wanted to earn an income. “Flexibility is what attracted me,” Kristi relays. “My kids walk home from school and I’m there. They’re not going to daycare – they’re with me.” Kristi’s flexible work arrangement allows her time to volunteer in numerous community activities, including the president of the PTA, and the official football and lacrosse mom for her kids’ sports.

Kristi’s home office, though, is off-limits to the kids. “I don’t want background noise when I’m taking calls and they know that.” Kristi enjoys having a separate space for work while still at home.  The only family member allowed in her office is Fonzie, her mini dachshund, who lays by her feet while she works. Another benefit to working from home is that Kristi gets to set the dress code. She can work in her pajamas if she wants, but usually wears yoga shirts and sweatpants just to be comfortable. “It’s nice not to have to get dressed up to go anywhere,” she says.

Working from home means Kristi can be most comfortable when she’s on the phone with customers. “I love talking to a variety of people. I’m more myself when I’m here at my house.” On her eight-hour shift, Kristi gets a lunch break and two additional short breaks. If she needs to leave her desk for any other reason, she reaches out to her supervisors to let them know and is always met with understanding. She has a good work ethic and believes in being honest about her time because, “my time is the company’s time, and I don’t want to waste it.” She and our other 1,800 Customer Support crewmembers that work remotely are in close touch with their supervisors throughout their shifts to report on anything that should be relayed to the rest of the team and to escalate calls when needed.

The Customer Support team out in Salt Lake City volunteering, one of their many outings

Kristi estimates that she talks to anywhere from 50-80 customers each day. The time spent on each call varies, with some as quick as less than one minute and others extending to more than an hour. She spent 55 minutes this week with an older gentleman who didn’t know how to book his tickets on jetblue.com. Kristi pulled up the same screen that he had on his computer and walked him through each step in the process until he had completed his booking. “It’s rewarding when a customer figures it out and says, ‘I see what I’m doing wrong,’ or ‘Thank you for staying on the phone for so long.’

“To me, that’s customer service; taking the time to work with each customer for as long as he or she needs the first time so we deliver a good first impression. We can then continue to build on the experience with excellent customer service at the airport, on the aircraft, and beyond.”

The calls Kristi handles on a day-to-day basis vary greatly. Most of the calls that come in are customers looking to book flights, but she also gets a lot of questions. The top ones are usually about checked luggage (first bag flies free on JetBlue!), traveling with pets or booking unaccompanied children. Kristi loves that she can relate to many of the customers personally, having traveled with her kids and with her mini dachshund.

One of Kristi’s favorite calls? A big celebrity called JetBlue and reached Kristi wanting to reserve the entire plane but not wanting to pay for it. Kristi politely relayed that she’d be happy to book as many seats as possible for the requested flight, but that the customer had to pay for them, just like the rest of our customers.

It’s not all fun and games, of course. Weather events mean a high volume of calls from customers who are not having the best travel experience and are looking for answers, assistance, and sometimes just an outlet to vent. “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this job is patience. It transfers out to my home life too.” Kristi considers herself a people pleaser and tries to accommodate customers with helpful information and a friendly tone.

When asked if Kristi ever gets lonely working from home, she says, “I never get lonely. I like being in my own atmosphere. Sometimes it would be nice to interact with other people, but we have team meetings and parties that allow us to connect with others.”

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet Rick, an Executive Coordinator for our CEO, Chris, Lashonne and Jaclyn from  Brand Design Jeff and Greg from Schedule Planning, Loretta in Security, Chris in InflightMorgan in Social Media, Don in Air Traffic System Control, and Mike in Ground Operations, and stay tuned for the next edition!

Posted by in A Day In The Life | Permalink | 12 Comments | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter

Leave a Reply