A couple of weeks ago United Airlines was bashed for the way they handled a customer incident. As most have seen or heard, the passenger was forcefully dragged off of the plane, and the video to prove it went viral. Within hours United Airlines was faced with a public relations crisis, which I discussed in detail in a previous blog. Not only does a company have to try to recover from a situation like this, but they need to ensure that they are genuine while doing so.
With United Airlines having a couple of weeks to figure out just how this would impact their business and company culture it was imperative that they addressed the massive failure in customer service. Making a change in culture is many times a top down approach for companies, and in this instance the CEO, Oscar Munoz, along with the company made an official statement of ten action items. These will change some of their customer service practices and procedures and address other issues.
- Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
- Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
- Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.
- Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their final destination.
- Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
- Provide employees with additional annual training.
- Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
- Reduce the amount of overbooking.
- Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
- Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked” policy on lost luggage.
It is great to hear the changes that the company is making in the aftermath of the incident. Especially changes that empower the employees to make decisions in the moment to help prevent a situation like this from happening. They are also providing higher compensatory incentives, increasing the cap to $10,000, to incentivize voluntary denied boarding. I guarantee if they would have offered that amount during this incident someone would have taken the offer.
United Airlines may not have initially handled the situation well, or made proper statements right after the incident. However, after looking through these changes they are committed to making you can tell that the company took some time to really analyze and change the culture and the level of service they provide their customers. I think this is a great starting point for the company to fix their reputation.
After seeing these ten changes to their company policies, would you feel more inclined to travel with United Airlines again? Let me know by leaving a comment!