David Neeleman * Founder Of Jet Blue

Customer service in many cases is what separates one company from another. It’s caring about your customers beyond just making a profit. It’s taking pride in what you do and how you treat people. It’s about wanting your customer to be happy simply because you care that they are happy.

As a business entrepreneur I’m always obsessed with making my customers happy. Mediocrity is simply not an option, so I’m always looking for inspiration. Especially from the companies and service providers I patronize.

On one very special flight I received all the inspiration I would ever need. I was flying out to Salt Lake City from JFK on Jet Blue. It was my first time flying Jet Blue and I was excited to see if they were as good as the reputation suggested. The plane was new, TVs in the head rest, leather seats along with a attentive and friendly staff of attendants. Very impressive indeed, but my impression was about to go to another level.

Shortly after reaching 10,000 feet a voice came over the intercom. He made a warm welcome to the passengers and introduced himself as David Neeleman, CEO of Jet Blue. David said that he often flies to and from Salt Lake City where the corporate headquarters were located and that this gave him the opportunity to sample his own product. He then announced that he valued everyone’s opinion and would be around to listen to suggestions and feedback for a better flight experience.

With a genuine smile and open mind David went to every single passenger, shaking hands and spending un-rushed time with each passenger listening to their personal impressions of his airline. He spent over 5 minutes with me, which blew me away and really made me feel like my business mattered. After chatting with every customer on the 136 seat A320 David  served each passenger from a basket of snacks. This was the CEO of the company! He didn’t have to do that!! He could have flown on the company jet and never bothered interacting with people. He could have simply announced he was David Neeleman and that would have been impressive enough, but instead he made a real investment in his company. He gave a damn and valued his customers by listening and providing service that went far beyond the call of duty.

I never forgot that flight and became a huge David Neeleman fan. Many of our Canadian friends might recognize another airline that David started. It’s called West Jet. And after leaving the board of Jet Blue, David went back to his second home of Brazil and started a brand new airline called Azul. Azul since has changed air travel in Brazil and enhanced many lives. Just like Jet Blue. Everything he has touched has turned to gold and I’m not surprised. When your passion is so great that all you want is customer satisfaction and you love what you do, success won’t be far behind.

With my small business I often remember David and how he treated me as a customer and I try to emulate that genuine passion for excellence. I call it my “Jet Blue Effect.”