Today's Mighty Oak


This article was published internally, describing how the successful airline JetBlue incorporates ideas of Behavioral Differentiation, one of the four parts of Customer 1st.

JetBlue captures competitive edge by listening to its customers

Two tenets of Behavioral Differentiation are to “invest in the customer” and to “spend more time asking and listening than telling.”  JetBlue, a rising airline company has proven its excellence in both these areas.  By setting itself apart from its competitors, JetBlue continues to be known for its quality of service and customer relations.

“[Y]ou communicate whether you care, whether you are listening, whether you are responsive to the customers needs and concerns, and whether you are placing your customer’s interests ahead of (or behind) your own.  Your behavior communicates what you think of customers, what you consider important, and whether you really want their business.[i]”  Behavioral Differentiation, whether consciously or unconsciously, affects how we are perceived by our customers and the public.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, coupled with a weakening economy, resulted in the airline industry falling upon tough times.  Customers were extremely vocal in their reluctance to fly, demanding impenetrable cockpit doors among other increased security measures.

            As airlines such as American, Delta and British Airways fired employees and cited reasons for not incorporating impenetrable cockpit doors, JetBlue remaining quiet while listening to what the customers wanted.

            Morning shows on both television and radio across the country discussed the importance of impenetrable cabin doors and other added security features on airlines.  While this topic was in the forefront of the entire nation’s minds, the largest airline carriers refused to budge, remaining in stasis.

            The larger airline carriers continued to state that they could not add these additional safety measures.  Doing so would make the aircraft heavier, and as such, would need more gallons of fuel each flight.

            JetBlue however listened to its customers, and without the layoffs that were becoming typical of other airlines, JetBlue unveiled the first bulletproof and impenetrable cabin doors in the air.  At the same time, JetBlue also announced that it planned to absorb the cost of the extra fuel itself, without raising the price of tickets.

            JetBlue cited the decision as an easy choice: offering the customers what they wanted and needed, even if it meant working harder from their end.  Travelers finally had the security they were seeking in the air while JetBlue launched ahead of its competitors who were reluctant to change and vocal in their opinions that they did not need to alter their existing fleets of planes[ii].

            Since its first flight in February of 2000, JetBlue has served more than 25 million customers flying non-stop between 32 cities in the United States and the Caribbean.  The JetBlue fleet currently consists of 68 planes and orders have been placed for 433 more planes as the carrier rapidly expands[iii].  Posting a gross profit of over 450 million dollars last year[iv], JetBlue continues to be a rising leader in the airline industry.

            JetBlue differentiated itself from the other airlines of the industry by listening.  Not revolutionary, but different; different enough to stand out and move to the forefront of consumer’s minds.




[i] Bacon, Terry R.  “Behavioral Differentiation.”  The White Paper Series.  Lore International Institute.  2002.

[ii] Source: Laermer, Richard.  “Full Frontal PR.”  Bloomberg Press.  Bloomberg.  2004.


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