The last three weeks have been a bumpy ride for United Airlines. It began with a horrific example of how not to treat passengers. It garnered over 20 million YouTube visits, and reduced the value of the airline by hundreds of millions of dollars. The flames of consumer outrage were then fanned by an equally horrific first response by United. CEO Oscar Munoz tried to dismiss the event by blaming the passenger and supporting the actions of the people who abused him. In a dazzling display of bad judgement, they even tried to spin things with bafflespeak words like “reaccommodating” passengers.
Today, however, United appears be taking some action to stem the customer experience bleeding. Not only did they come to settlement terms with the abused passenger, they announced ten immediate steps they are taking to try and prevent future incidents. It looks good on the surface, and we need to give United credit for hitting most of the substantive pain points.
What remains to be seen, of course, is whether this is a one-time reaction to try and stem the poor publicity, or if they have actually begun to understand the long-term linkage between customer service, customer experience and profitability. Only time will tell if they are actually serious, or if is just the kind of lip service Comcast was guilty of last year.