What We Can Learn from United Airlines

If you haven’t already heard, United Airlines is facing some serious backlash (and do I smell a lawsuit?) after forcing a passenger off of one of its over-booked flights to make room for an employee. The man refused to give up his seat, and ultimately, was dragged out of the airplane.

Definitely not a pleasant situation, and I’m glad to not be United’s PR Director, but there are definitely some lessons to be learned.

  1. Facebook is POWERFUL. There’s no doubt that this would have become public knowledge eventually, but with Audra Bridges’s Facebook post, this news was out within minutes, and the public went nuts. With Facebook, nothing is secret, and nothing is required to go through the “company filter” before going public.
  2. The customer is (almost) always right. At the end of the day, what makes a company successful? Customers. United’s stock has dropped over 4% in the past day, all because of unhappy customers. Yes, there are always exceptions, like no hazardous materials are allowed on a flight, no matter what a customer says, but I’m pretty sure dragging a passenger out of the plane is not one of those exceptions.
  3. Plan ahead! This flight was overbooked. United needed seats for its employees. If United had planned ahead to ensure everyone had a seat, this would not have even been an issue.

So how does this apply to you?

  1. How is your company being promoted on social media? Are you receiving bad Facebook ratings, but doing nothing to resolve them? Are you encouraging customers to post about your product or service? Even on your personal page, are you sharing and posting ideas with substance to promote yourself in your field?
  2. Do you step on your customers toes and demand you are always right?
  3. Are you planning ahead? How are you prepared for the next steps your company or clients need to take?