The Customer Experience Effect: A Look at What We Learned in 2017 and What’s Ahead


Guest post from Liliana Petrova, director of customer experience at JetBlue

One of the greatest things about working at JetBlue is that when I tell people that I do, nine times out of ten, they respond, “I love JetBlue!”

As customer experience director at JetBlue, I feel pride and responsibility to meet the high expectations of our customers and passionate to keep the love alive as we grow.

Since the airline was founded 17 years ago, we have built our reputation as a “non-airline airline.” Often, that simply means being “friendly” to our customers at every interaction along their journey. It also has a lot to do with our caring crewmembers who empathize with our customers and build memorable experiences, while having some fun along the way.

Technology is rapidly changing what customers expect from their favorite brands. Deep personalization, predictive offerings, and seamlessly integrated user experience are becoming the norm. Companies are scrambling to keep pace while looking ahead to imagine the future state of their industries and to plan for disruptions from within before disruptions happen from the outside. Many, including JetBlue, have launched corporate technology ventures to stay ahead of this curve.

While companies must have one eye on the future, they need to remember how the customer looks at their experience. The customer thinks of their experience in the now, so companies like ours must consistently meet that customer’s immediate needs, surpass their immediate expectations, and progress toward a future state of higher expectations.

But we can’t change too fast.  Herein lies the challenge of “customer experience innovation” that so many leading companies face.

With many startups and companies addressing this exciting challenge in brilliant and creative ways, we invited a group of innovators to our New York City headquarters on Customer Experience Day for a discussion on customer experience innovation. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the top things we learned during this panel and how we will continue to apply them and inspire humanity in the year ahead.

Learning 1: Define Innovation

“Innovation” has reached buzzword status. It is worth thinking about what it means (as much as what it does not mean) both to customer experience professionals and to customer-centric organizations.

“Innovation can’t and shouldn’t be tech for the sake of tech, it should always be solving real human problem,” said Healy Cypher, founder and CEO of OAK Labs. “The extent to which we can replace the word ‘innovation’ and just call it continually aspiring to create better human connections—that might be the safest replacement.”

I couldn’t agree more! At JetBlue, we are building human connections with our customers at every touch point. In addition to our technology investments, we invested in, and recently completed, in-person hospitality training for every airport and inflight crewmember. When we redesigned our lobbies and check-in experience last year, we coordinated the technology implementation with the completion of the training to ensure the human touch is not lost. We believe that technology has the power to free up our workforce so that our people can do what they do best – deliver hospitality and not waste time on transactional items like printing bag tags.

Stay tuned for more learnings over the coming weeks!