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  • AM

    Amanda Milligan

    over 2 years ago #

    Man, nothing like imagining you're the CEO of United to make you feel incredibly lucky about your real life!

    First, I'd fire everyone involved in that decision making. It's still not clear what all went down for the staff to decide pulling people from the plane who were already seated was the best way to go, but it was NOT the right move. After dissecting what happened, I would institute a training course all remaining (relevant) staff would have to undergo to properly address these types of situations.

    Second, I'd make it clear that overbooking would no longer be a practice for United, despite the fact that it's an industry-wide practice. It's a source of tension that doesn't put passengers first and thus should be abandoned.

    Third, I'd provide the man who was dragged off the plane with lifetime, first-class passes and our sincerest apologies, though I highly doubt that would be enough.

    Fourth, I would brainstorm ways to show customers they are valued, though I wouldn't launch anything too soon. There's a critical eye on what kind of initiatives will be genuine around this time and not just a gimmick to get the brand's PR back on course. But it would be important to demonstrate to United customers that the brand cares about them, since that was obviously not the case in that particular scenario.

    Finally, I would make sure United takes full responsibility and doesn't try to mitigate the situation or victim-blame. It's a terrible situation, but you only make a situation worse by pretending it's not as bad as it appears.

    • DE

      Darrell Ellens

      over 2 years ago #

      I like your perspective.

    • JW

      James Welch

      over 2 years ago #

      Excellent answer. No need for me to write my own now :)

    • EL

      Eliseo Lipari

      over 2 years ago #

      Sono d'accordo, ricordo che in adolescenza quando facevo il cameriere i miei colleghi e superiori mi ricordavano che i clienti erano quelli che spendevano soldi da noi e per questo andavano rispettati, di sicuro i casi del genere fanno emergere un problema interno aziendale che senza dubbio va affrontato e risolto in tempi rapidi affinché non si ripeta mai più, l'effetto esterno è impresentabile , i clienti in overbooking vanno messi in condizioni privilegiate su un prossimo volo con tanto di scuse.
      Occorre rimediare nel migliore dei modi con il cliente che ha subito un tale trattamento.

    • HA

      Hammad Akbar

      over 2 years ago #

      Good and wise answer.

  • JA

    Justin Adelson

    over 2 years ago #

    Hop on a Virgin America flight to somewhere warm. I wouldn't trust my own airline to get somewhere without complications.

  • DE

    Darrell Ellens

    over 2 years ago #

    I have the book called "United Breaks Guitars" by Dave Carroll. You would think that after losing $100,000,000 in stock value they would have learned a lesson.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    I think the opportunity is ripe for United to take this moment and turn it into a huge win.
    The airline industry has pretty low ratings for customer satisfaction. United in general has inspired enough hate for this site to exist: http://www.untied.com/main.shtml

    I would study this site - stop trying to shut them down - and maybe even join forces with it as a sign of committing to be not only be better but to be the best in the industry.

    To quote the Stones: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need"

  • DS

    Diederik Sjardijn

    over 2 years ago #

    First of all, i'd take extreme ownership (read more: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250067057)
    This is ultimately all the fault of the person at the top (in this fictitious case: Me!) exonerating any employee beneath me from blame.

    Second i'd re-examine the core brand identity and values United has and shift them towards a more customer-satisfaction based strategy, but i would make sure it is a very 1 dimension and simple "hedgehog" strategy (read more about this here: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Great-Some-Companies-Others/dp/0066620996/).

    thirdly i'd make CSAT and NPS my main management KPI's. and i'd rigorously measure and incentize them whereaver I could (read more about this here: https://www.amazon.com/Data-Driven-Marketing-Metrics-Everyone-Should/dp/0470504544/)

  • TT

    Tim Tyler

    over 2 years ago #

    It is understood that overbooking is a standard practice, yet as passengers we get frustrated when it happens to us. However, we like the lower fares this may bring as a result of the more efficient use of the flight segment.

    That said, the messaging on this from a CEO was completely off. Maybe Oscar Muñoz was trying to channel Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines fame, with his philosophy of employees first, customers second, and shareholders third. Again Oscar missed the mark. You can address the shock the public has seeing these videos while supporting your employees. There was plenty of wrong turns that lead to the situation but it was on Muñoz to position his customer market as partners in the problem not to alienate them. Acknowledging the problem and addressing it without admitting fault is possible if handled with empathy and leadership instead of pointing fingers or closing ranks.

    1-- First and foremost, acknowledge this was a situation gone bad.
    2-- Express empathy for the gentleman being dragged, his family and those on the plane.
    3-- Help people recognize the position that the airline staff were put into when the flight was overbooked and no passengers would release their seats.
    4-- Express how he would give up his seat, maybe emphasizing that he flies United when he travels and if true, how he has given up a seat in the past.
    6-- Commit to review their procedures on engaging security and overbooking flights in heavier traffic segments.

  • JC

    Jeff Cox

    over 2 years ago #

    It's always tough to put yourself in the shoes of someone like that without knowing all of the facts. But, seeing what going on from the outside (and the fact that PR crises are all about external perception anyway), I think I can formulate enough of an opinion to share here.

    I understand Mr. Munoz's initial attempt to avoid "selling out" his employees. I am sure that it would hurt morale if he immediately did a fire sale on all of the employees involved without a proper investigation (even if that is what most of the outraged netizens would like to see). Unfortunately, he didn't handle this attempt very well, and it ended up with him making several conflicting statements that just makes him look foolish and diminishes his credibility as a leader.

    I think with PR disasters like this, it is important to maintain transparency. Regardless of the facts or behavior of the passenger involved, anyone in their right mind would think that calling security to beat up and drag a passenger off of a flight is terrible. It's important to be clear from the outset that the decisions that led up to that incident were wrong, and that an investigation should be conducted. Not only is this the right PR move, but it is also the right business move. Any process that results in that outcome is simply unacceptable, so I would communicate that to the public first and foremost.

    Once the investigation is completed, then I would decide who would be let go, and also how the internal United policies could be fixed to prevent this from ever happening again. Most importantly though, I would do my best to remain transparent through the entire process.

    As Anuj pointed out, airlines have a terrible reputation in customer service. I think that an incident like this could be turned into an opportunity to create more transparency and accountability to customers.

    The absolute most important outcome of the handling of this incident is making sure that people understand that systematic changes are being made (beyond just firing those who were involved). This reassures people that this will never happen again. It would be extremely hard for United to continue getting passengers if everyone is afraid that they might end up getting beaten up and dragged off of a flight for seemingly no reason.

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