Investment ideas come from many sources, including internally from JetBlue. Last year, JetBlue’s VP of Customer Support, Frankie Littleford, reached out to JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV) to see if we could help her reimagine “The Future of Customer Support.” Frankie is a JetBlue founder and an innovative leader. When JetBlue launched 17 years ago, we were the first company to use VOIP (voice over internet protocol) to enable customer service crewmembers to work from home. JetBlue was also the first airline to embrace using social media as a means for customer support, by creating the famous @jetblue Twitter “real time recovery” team. Frankie led both of those innovations.
Now it is time to reinvent the customer support model once again. Our customers want to communicate with us, just like they do with each other, via chat, messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and only occasionally by phone. Frankie wanted to know, are there startups out there that are building platforms to meet this need? Further, how might artificial intelligence enhance the customer experience? Thus, we launched a twelve-week engagement with Frankie and her team to define “The Future of Customer Support”.
We wanted to find technology that would truly transform customer service, delivered by a company that puts people at the heart of what they do. So our team scoured Silicon Valley and beyond to discover the most innovative customer service-focused startups. We found more than 80 companies and brought them to the customer support team for their evaluation, while concurrently doing careful assessments of our own.
It was this process that led us to Gladly, an omnichannel platform that is reinventing customer service. We’re thrilled to announce that we’re investing in the company, while, at the same time, JetBlue Airways will be implementing their solution over the next two years.
Founded by veterans of the customer service space, Gladly’s work is motivated by the realization that customer service today still relies largely on legacy technology that dates back at least 20 years. It wasn’t built for a time when a consumer might choose to communicate over email one day, then text the next. And it’s never solved for the problem of depersonalization: Multiple calls or messages to a customer service department can yield contacts with different agents who often aren’t up to speed on a customer’s previous conversations and concerns.
Gladly is changing that. The omnichannel platform is helping companies have continuous conversations with consumers. Gladly provides businesses with the tools they need to give agents a comprehensive view of their customers, including their prior calls, emails, text messages and even Facebook messages. Just like you don’t have to recap your last conversation every time you call a friend, customers don’t need to waste time summarizing their previous customer service experiences with every new call or message.
Gladly’s mission couldn’t be a better fit for JetBlue and JetBlue Technology Ventures. As JetBlue incorporates Gladly’s platform into its customer service model, we at JetBlue Technology Ventures will work with Gladly to make a great product even better. We’re bringing humanity back to travel together. Our customers deserve nothing less.
This type of partnership with JetBlue has proven to be win-win-win, so our next engagement is with JetBlue University, to help define “The Future of Learning” for our crewmembers. How might augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) improve the learning experience? Look for updates on this engagement next.