Category: Customer Service: Company Spotlight

United Airlines Announces 10 Customer Service Changes

Image result for united airlines

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.


Here are the ten changes to customer service United Airlines announced:

  • 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.

Image result for customer serviceIt 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!

Photo Credit: United, Customer Service

Cheerios: Saving the Bees and Gaining Customer Loyalty

Image result for cheerios logo

With the ever changing atmosphere the customer service industry has to offer, companies not only need to provide a great experience, but a creative and sustainable one was well. Companies getting involved in outreach projects that help different causes are a great way to engage and delight the customer. Gaining the consumers loyalty is part of proving that the brand is not only out to make a profit, but also make a difference in our society.

About a month or so ago, I saw post on Facebook about Cheerios. The post talked about saving bees and how anyone can help this cause. I was intrigued so I clicked on the article and was directed to their site where you could sign up and receive and packet of seeds to be planted in order to help the bee population. I just received my packet of seeds in the mail and was delighted that they backed their commitment.

The #BringBacktheBees campaign has been a huge success and they not only reached their goal of giving away 100 million seeds, but ended up donating 1.5 billion! Now that is a successful campaign. With the huge accomplishment they have now run out of seed packets to be given away, but reaching a donation in the billions is no small feat. They were able to exceed their goal and deliver on their promise to consumers who were signed up to receive a seed packet.

Not only is Cheerios proving to be a sustainable brand throughout the years, but now they are proving even more so how they care about the environment and allowing others to help as well. This is part of the future of customer service, because consumers want to know that they are purchasing from a brand that cares about more than just making a profit.

Cheerios provides some details on why we need the bees:

  • 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators
  • 44% of bee colonies in the U.S. collapsed in 2016
  • More than two thirds of the world’s crop species rely on pollinators

Partnering with Veseys they provide tips on how to plant:

  • Plant in the spring, post-frost
  • Choose a non-windy day
  • Wildflowers flourish in moist soil
  • Weed, weed, weed
  • Mow high in the fall and leave seed-rich clippings

I am no pro at gardening in any way, but their tips will make it much easier for me to plant the seeds that I received. Cheerios provided me with one small way that I can help out. Do you feel as though you are more loyal to companies that help to protect the environment? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Cheerios

United Airlines: Customer Service and PR Crisis

Image result for united airlinesCustomer service and experience are key elements for a company to remain successful. With the rapid spread of news through social media platforms and websites companies can no longer hide if they make a mistake. Many people carry smartphones with them and with the press of a button can record or take photos of a situation that can drag a company’s image down in a matter of hours.

A couple of days ago United Airlines was faced with this issue. Videos went viral of a customer being forcibly removed from a flight. Even if the company felt that they had valid reasons for the passenger to be removed, the way in which they removed the customer was extremely harsh. In a matter of hours United Airlines was faced with a public relations and customer service nightmare. Damage control in this kind of situation needs to be quick and customer oriented. If you have not seen a clip of what happened here is a link: Passenger Video by The New York Times

The statement to the right is one that @united tweeted on April 10 in the aftermath of the incident, showing a statement by the companies CEO, Oscar Munoz:

An article by Julie Crewsell and Sapna Maheshwari published in The New York Times listed some of the facts about this case. The passenger, Dr. David Dao, is now being treated for injuries in a Chicago hospital. He is already represented by attorneys who will undoubtedly be pressing charges against United Airlines. Not only will they face a lawsuit, but face complaints about the company changing their stance about this incident.

The company has since taken a hit to their stocks and have received rapid complaints and criticism through different social media platforms. Many consumers have gone to Twitter to complain about this incident. Not only did United Airlines mistreat this paying customer, but they have now also ruined their reputation regarding customer service. In my previous post about social media backlash I listed some ways that companies can recover from these sorts of situations, with the example of Pepsi who also recently faced social media criticism for their advertisement.

Physically abusing a customer is not the answer for a situation where the plane was overbooked. Companies like United Airlines will end up paying millions in a lawsuit like this, instead of offering rewards to incentivize customers to take the next plane. Taking volunteers and providing a guest service attitude of making the customer happy is the way to go in these sorts of situations. Now United Airlines will most likely be paying out millions for this situation, which could have easily been avoided with the right policies and procedures.

 

What are your thoughts on United Airlines treatment of this customer? Are you likely to travel with them in the future? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: United Logo, CEO Statment

Can Controversial Advertisements Affect Customer Loyalty?

Image result for pepsiThe Social Age leaves no room for mistakes for many companies. In the past a company’s advertisement may have not reached a huge audience. However, with the magnitude and influence social media platforms provide, a company’s image can be damaged in 24 hours once backlash is picked up by consumers who slam the company immediately. These advertisements become viral and are picked up by main stream news channels and from there can affect consumers’ thoughts about the company as a whole.

Image result for kendall jenner pepsiI thought about this topic with the recent backlash that Pepsi received with their new advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner. If you’re interested in watching the commercial here is the link: https://youtu.be/dA5Yq1DLSmQ.

Just doing a quick search of this commercial on Google I found many articles discussing the negative thoughts surrounding this ad. Just a few of the headlines are as follows:

  • “Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial pulled from air: ‘Clearly we missed the mark’”
  • “Pepsi’s commercial falls flat – it was a marketing nightmare”
  • “Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Commercial Draws Controversy”
  • “Pepsi destroyed for Kendall Jenner Protest Commercial”

As you can tell Pepsi is now facing a social media nightmare, and will most likely be doing damage control in the coming weeks. Understanding your audience is a key element to success for many companies. Most likely Pepsi will not just be receiving negative feedback from customers, but also take a hit financially. This much negativity allows a consumer to question their loyalty to this brand.

How to Recover From Social Media Fails” by Dominique Jackson lists some keys for companies to follow when faced with backlash from consumers:

Image result for social media recovery

  1. Fix the problem
  1. Act Quickly
  1. Admit you made a mistake
  1. Don’t become defensive
  1. Put procedures in place to prevent a repeat

Recovering from a social media nightmare can be difficult for companies, but following some of these tips will allow the company to fix their image more quickly. Pepsi is not the only company that faces this current issue, and definitely will not be the last to deal with damage control. However, brand loyalty is what makes a company survive, and listening to your consumer is key to fixing a mistake.

 

How do you feel about this recent Pepsi advertisement? Are you more or less likely to purchase this brand product? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: Pepsi

Photo Credit: Pepsi Commercial

Photo Credit: Social Media

Uber & Lyft: Changing the Customer Experience

Image result for uber and lyft changing customer experienceI have to admit initially I was a little skeptical about how Uber and Lyft could change the industry. I wasn’t even sure if I would want to hop into someone’s personal car and trust that they would take me to my destination. However, that left me, along with many others with the only other comparable option; a taxi. Taxi’s have dominated the industry for years, but with the disruptive technology that Uber and Lyft brought to the market, taxi companies are losing their competitive advantage.

In the Social Age, almost everyone has access to a smartphone. Making the dominance of Uber and Lyft that much more present. All you have to do is log into either  of their apps, press a button to get picked up and you are on your way. I try to avoid getting into a taxi at all costs anymore. These two companies have changed the industry as well as the customer’s overall experience.

Here is a little breakdown of Uber, “Sign Up to Drive or Tap and Ride”:

  • Download the app and create an account
  • Choose your ride and set your location
  • 24/7 availability
  • Rate your driver (I’m sure most wish they could have rated a taxi experience)
  • Levels of experience:
    • Economy (UberX, UberXL, UberSELECT)
    • Premium (UberBLACK, UberSUV, UberLUX)
    • Accessibility (accessible for wheelchairs, or carseats)
    • Carpool (UberPOOL)

Here is a breakdown of Lyft, “A ride whenever you need one”:

  • Download the app and create an account
  • Choose ride, set location, and see the cost before committing
  • Option to tip your driver in the app
  • Amp: Light up emblem that sits in the dashboard
  • Levels of experience:
    • Lyft Plus (6 or more passengers)
    • Lyft Premier (luxury sadan)
    • Lyft Line (Carpool option)

Image result for uber and lyft car decalsAs you can tell both of these companies provide similar services, and many drivers are registered with both companies, which you can tell by the posted emblems in their cars. I think the competitive advantage these companies provide compared to taxi’s is the option to differentiate your experience. There is a car available for every situation, as well as different sized groups. I have used both Uber and Lyft and have never been disappointed by either company.

Next time you’re on your smartphone download the Uber or Lyft app, depending on your preference, or if you prefer to sign up online they both have great websites. Your ride experience will be much more pleasant, and make traveling around that much easier and enjoyable!

Photo: Uber/Lyft

Photo: Car Decals