The video of a passenger with blood on his face being dragged off an airline seems like something out of a apocalyptic Zombie movie. Unfortunately, it was just another day on United Airlines at O’Hare.
Airlines traditionally overbook passengers on flights since there are typically so many no shows or cancellations. On the rare occasion their are too many confirmed passengers, they offer volunteers flight credits up to $1,000 to voluntarily take a different flight. Even more rarely, the airlines bump boarded passengers involuntarily off a flight if there are not enough volunteers. This has happened to me once.
United was faced with the worst of all scenarios this week. Not enough volunteers at the reward they offered and the flight was already boarded. But they walked into a customer service nightmare when they literally dragged a passenger, David Dao off the plane.
Now so we media outlets are making a big deal of Dao drugs for sex past and the suspending of his license. This is irrelevant.
United has to think smarter. They have to understand that everyone has a video camera on them and anything they do will be recorded and posted at anytime.
They need to get passengers off the flight at any cost. Given the PR nightmare, the could have offered this passenger millions to “volunteer” and still come out ahead. I have seen passengers offered $2,000 to take another flight. Heck, offer them $10k and United will see how many people jump off that flight with their luggage in their hand.
The only sustainable competitive advantage for every small business is an outstanding customer service experience. Every decision with a customer is an opportunity to shine. Stop thinking tactical and instead, realize the long term effect that a satisfied or dissatisfied customer can have on your business. They are undoubtedly going to share any intense experience with others online and that is really where your business succeeds or fails.