Fast Company

Customer-Centered Leader Runner-up: Michelle Peluso

Travelocity is the customer's knight in shining armor when it comes to supplier disputes.

When a $51 fare from Los Angeles to Fiji was mistakenly posted in Travelocity's system back in April (typically a $1,000 fare), frequent fliers like Nicholas Blanchard jumped. The Pittsburgh-based pharmacist--who spent seven cheap tropical days in the South Pacific--was impressed, not only that the company honored the mistake, but also by Michelle Peluso, Travelocity's CEO. Soon after the error surfaced, Peluso posted a message on FlyerTalk, an online frequent-flier forum, saying the fare would be honored and wishing customers bon voyage. When Blanchard emailed to thank her over the weekend, Peluso responded immediately. "It really put a human face on them," says Blanchard.

That kind of customers-first attitude has led Peluso to launch Travelocity's new "customer championship" initiative, which guarantees that it will step in and advocate for customers when things go wrong with suppliers. In preparation for the initiative's launch, each business line came up with a list of its top-10 customer problems, based on call-center data. "Michelle had her own list of the top-10 problems [she'd seen] over the course of her leadership," says Laura Johnston, Travelocity's VP of customer relations. "She very much drives that customer focus."

See the full 2005 Customers First Awards.

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