Views and Opinions from our Marketing Experts

What United Airlines did right in Chicago!

What United Airlines did right in Chicago!

Absolutely nothing! They just couldn't have done any more wrong. This is indelible proof that in some companies the customer just don't matter to them and nor does their brand image.

In fact, United Airlines could not have done any more to severely damage their reputation and public image world-wide. Who in their right mind would now consider flying with United? Who hasn't heard about this horrific incident through the newscasts globally and social media posts?

I see in a leaked memo this morning (seen by Reuters) that Oscar Munroz wrote to his staff to support their efforts and not apologising for the awful event. Apparently, they are "reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this issue". This clearly puts a very clear sign up to people who fly with them and tarnishes their brand even further after last month's episode with teenagers barred from boarding as they were wearing leggings.

Let me put another perspective on this - I used to fly a lot, every week in fact and once when I was sitting on a plane in Rome we were delayed but we weren't quite sure why, then several obviously armed personnel boarded the plane and calmly and politely removed 4 terrorist suspects treating them with dignity and merely causing a wave of turning heads as these people were removed - we found out why immediately after their removal and after a continued delay we continued our journey. None were dragged down the aisle like animals.

This latest incident surely shows the worst possible way to deal with a customer underlined with violence and aggression to a paying passenger - and look at how fast we all found out about it - not exactly word of mouth but actual video captured at the point of origin showing the outcome very clearly and shared around the world rapidly in a viral fashion.

But what is to be observed or learnt here:

  • The customer is king not an animal - respect your customers if you want their business
  • Teach your staff to deal with complicated situations
  • As a vendor or service provider try incredibly hard not to cause problems for yourself or

paying customers

  • Remember it's a mobile first world - simple mistakes or terrible judgements will virally travel the globe faster than any brand can anticipate - good things can also travel that fast
  • You have a plan, process and people in place to deal with such a PR disaster
  • Respond in an responsible and empathetic way to problems. Customers often define your brand experience by how you deal with problems and the experience they have. It's not all about price.

Shame on United Airlines - bow your heads low especially your management team. If you treat the public with such contempt then you're in the wrong business!