Q&A with Beth Stebenne: Account Director of Client Services
In honor of the 2012 Women in Aviation Conference, the XOJET Blog is running a series of profiles of some of the great women who work at XOJET. Today, we’re excited to bring you an interview with Beth Stebenné, Account Director of Client Services.
XOJET Blog: Beth, tell us a little bit about you and your role at XOJET.
Beth: I’m an account director in the client services department at XOJET. One of my primary responsibilities is to ensure that the team thoroughly understands our clients’ expectations so that they have a perfect experience with XOJET. I joined XOJET in March 2005, when XOJET was still in the process of obtaining our FAA Air Carrier Certificate. There are only four other people who have been with XOJET as long as I have, so we’ve gotten to see XOJET evolve since its inception.
XOJET Blog: How have things changed since you first joined?
Beth: Everything has changed! It’s been a fascinating process to watch and be a part of. You see what it takes to grow a company. For example, I observed the effects that the economic downturn had in 2008 and the decisions we made as a company in order to survive and flourish. I’ve also seen how people either adapt or don’t during periods of change. As the company grew, we had to re-allocate areas of responsibility.
XOJET Blog: What is the account director responsible for?
Beth: My team is responsible for bringing new customers onboard, helping them understand how things work and how the process of scheduling flights with us will go. We also ask lots of questions to identify things we can change or perform differently in order to work best for each individual client. We have a 24/7 team that’s armed with access to all the information they need—including a deep understanding of what the client wants and expects—to make things go perfectly. And when they don’t, usually because of weather or unscheduled maintenance, we jump in and do our best to make things better. Creating a fantastic flight experience for our clients is all about managing the details.
XOJET Blog: So what is a typical day like for you?
Beth: We’re gaining new clients nearly every day. Often they come from a fractional jet ownership program or some other business model that’s quite different than XOJET’s. We educate our clients on the differences between XOJET’s offerings and the program they’ve been accustomed to.
First, we hold an internal pass-down call that includes the VP of sales operations as well as representation from regional sales, retail charter sales, finance and client services. Whoever has the relationship with the client describes their flying history, including information such as their previous provider, the type of aircraft they’ve flown on, and their usual routes. All of this helps us glean what the processes client may be accustomed to, based on their previous experiences.
The next step is an onboarding call with the sales rep, the client and/or their assistant. Often it’s an executive assistant who takes care of things for the flying passenger. We review their preferences, explain our processes, answer any questions they may have and then enter that information into our system so that we can meet or exceed their expectations every time.
On a regular basis, I review today’s trips as well as tomorrow’s so I have advance notice of any potential weather or aircraft issues. Having discussed the clients’ “hot buttons” with them helps me understand how best to proactively manage any potential problems. We also dedicate time to investigating previous trips that have had service issues so that we can prevent them in the future.
XOJET Blog: Why did you want to get into private aviation?
Beth: I was actually a hairdresser for 20 years. After experiencing salon management and ownership, I wanted something more challenging, so I responded to an ad for a receptionist at a flight school. I grew up flying with a neighbor and loved it, so the work sounded fun. I knew from the first minute of the first day that this was it! I started out scheduling instructors and aircraft, then recruiting new students. Eventually, I worked my way through the organization and was hired into their charter department. It’s been challenging and educational every day since.
Prior to joining XOJET, I worked for a large and well-established aircraft management company. My role was inside charter sales and we had opened an office in San Jose, California. I quickly realized that what my Silicon Valley clients were requesting often didn’t sync up with what the company offered. When XOJET came to me and said they were going to do something different, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. The rewards of building something are far greater than getting plugged into a formula.
XOJET Blog: Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
Beth: I spend most of my free time outdoors. I love to run, that’s my sanity. I’ve run several half marathons. I also have two teenage kids who keep me on my toes. I live in Phoenix, so when it’s not too hot, you’ll find me out running or hiking. I love working from XOJET’s Brisbane office, and when I’m there, I’ve got a great run mapped out along the San Francisco Bay.
XOJET Blog: What do you like most about your work?
Beth: I love talking with our clients. During our onboarding calls, I never know the course that the conversation is going to take. Sometimes it’s quick and cursory. Other times you get a gold mine of information. You hear things that really help you understand what’s important to our clients.
This will sound strange, but I believe a client’s loyalty is won when things go wrong. We see those times as a chance to work with the client and explain what we’re going to do to ensure things go right the next time. We’re in constant communication with the pilots and everyone else involved to figure out how to create a satisfactory resolution for the client.
One of the most rewarding things for me professionally has been watching people I hired grow into roles of greater responsibility. That always makes me feel good.
On a personal note, I love this company. They have won my loyalty with the integrity and caliber of character that I have seen from our executive team. They really care about the people who make up XOJET.