I understand that not all businesses are built on customer service. Not everyone can be a Nordstrom or Zappos and offer a no questions asked return policy. Some companies are too busy being the cheapest or most convenient or some other differentiating factor. So what happens when you’re not doing anything different? Or at least nothing different that’s good for the customer?
Well, then you would be United Airlines. Everyone knows the airline industry has struggled for years now. Rising gas prices, tighter security, an economic meltdown…not really good things for air travel. Southwest has survived due to low prices, no frill flying. Despite some PR issues to deal with JetBlue remains popular with a lot of travelers for their relatively cheap travel at least throughout the east coast, and you get a tv and bigger seat. What about the rest of the guys? I’m talking the DeltaUnitedContinentalAmericanAirlines bunch. Sure most people probably have a favorite if the HAVE to chose between one of those carriers, but really, you get just about the same service, flights and bad food on any of them, and it becomes a price game. Except their prices aren’t that good.
And now, United Airlines has this guy writing songs and making music videos about his terrible customer service battle, lasting more than a year, because the airline broke his $3,500 guitar. And now they have an online reputation issue. As the video was only released yesterday, it only has a few hundred views In one day the video has been viewed over 3,000 times, not including sites where the video is embedded and it was picked up by The Consumerist. And that article has been viewed nearly 8,000 22,000 times, and is being spread through Twitter.
The unfortunate thing is that if United had just replaced the guy’s guitar in the first place, no one would have heard about it. Negative press about a company always spreads faster than good news. United is forced to play clean-up, if they chose to play at all. And the already low public perception of a brand is taken down a few more notches.