What Happened to Customer Service?

What Happened to Customer Service?

By now, most people have probably seen the YouTube video wherein a frustrated United Airlines customer sings a song about how United broke his guitar. In case you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here:

If you’ve seen the video, you may have also heard about how United was completely unresponsive to this customer until the video had several million hits on YouTube, and was getting national media attention. Then, and only then, did United step up and offer to make things right. But, unfortunately for United, it was too late. The damage had been done.

But the real question is: How did United ever let it get that far? I have worked in customer service in the past, and it is still a large part of what I do as part of my job in a service-based business. And I can not understand how this situation was so badly handled.

In my humble opinion, customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. No matter what business you’re in, your customers/clients are your most valuable asset. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you. Treat them badly, and you lose them. It’s a widely recognized principle that a satisfied customer rarely tells anyone about their experience; but an unsatisfied customer tells EVERYONE. And letting everyone know about an upsetting consumer experience is much easier thanks to the internet, as I’m sure United Airlines has been made painfully aware.

So again, I ask: How does a company let it get that far? Is it simply cheaper to try to fix a customer service/PR problem rather than to make it right to begin with? I can’t answer that, but I can say that I am truly disappointed that customer service is becoming an afterthought for a lot of companies. That’s one of the reasons why I go out of my way to compliment companies/employees that really do provide excellent service. Perhaps if companies can see how much consumers value excellent service, they will realize how important it really is.

Jul 22, 2009

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