One disadvantage of being a social media Luddite is that you sometimes miss teachable customer experience moments that have wide public reach. I missed one recently that blew up social media but it still warrants a quick post.
In the incident, a “United Airlines flight attendant told a new mother on board one of the carrier’s aircraft that it was “absolutely unacceptable” for her infant to be crying more than five minutes inflight.” Pretty amazing right? Read more here.
Failures by employee:
- No empathy
- No apology
- No honesty
- Dare I say, no common sense
Failure by United:
- Inadequate employee training. (The employee claimed the company manual had the 5-minute rule.)
To United’s credit:
- The pilot stepped out of the cockpit to apologize. I wonder how that transpired. Did company headquarters contact the pilot while in flight to notify them of the problem? Or did a better trained employee alert the pilot to the issue?
- Company representatives met the family at their arrival gate and compensated them for the poor treatment. That compensation clearly wasn’t enough to erase the bad taste as the baby’s mother has vowed to never fly United again.
Airlines are primarily tasked with getting goods and people safely to and from a destination. And in most cases, they do this successfully. Where they still struggle, is in caring for their human cargo. Cargo who after all, pay for tickets which keep airlines in business, which allow employees to work (and treat people poorly).
The pivot point is that I doubt this is how United Airlines mapped out the customer journey – for this customer, or any customer. But the incident and its fallout happened nonetheless. Here are links to previous posts that United should consider when designing their next employee training sessions. Some are positive examples, others… not so much. Definitely start with the first one which touches on how social media magnifies the impacts (both positive and negative).
- Strike One – You’re Out
- American Airlines’ Poor Policy Costs $75,000
- United Airlines’ Actions – Legal but Unwise
- OneWorld – 15 Airlines – OneHeadache
- United Airlines Pulls Customer Experience Rabbit from Hat
- Customer Experience Lessons – United Airlines
- Carpet Ride not so Magical
For quantitative information on airlines, check out Bruce Temkin’s experience ratings for airlines.