On April 9th, a United Airlines customer on a flight from Chicago to Louisville was dragged out of the plane due to seats that needed to be given to crew members awaited in Louisville the next day. It was done by security personnel in such a violent way that the customer had blood on his face and the videos of the incident were all over the internet.
Even though it does not take away the responsibility from United Airlines, the flight the customer was boarding was a United Express flight run by Republic Airlines.
When there is an overbooking (and/or possibly the need to find a seat for a crew member), the airlines have the duty to offer compensation which we understand can go up to $1350 however only $800 was offered to the customer (according to sources via CNN).
United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, has won the PRWeek “Communicator of the Year 2017” Award however, after the incident, the organiser mentioned that the CEO would have not gotten the award if it had taken place now!
On April 11th, the market value of United Airlines went down by $250M due to the incident and from experience with US law suits, the customer could easily get a 7-figure compensation (and a healthy commission for the lawyers representing them – they are already in place!).
Today, we know that we all have a camera in our pocket and the video of the incident went therefore viral (USA Today article and video) across the planet including in China where United Airlines is a key airline for Chinese people travelling to the United States.
A lot of questions arise from the above incident and an outside view point is often critical to ensuring we go in the right direction as well as to avoiding mistakes which can cost hundreds or millions of dollars.
It is a PR disaster?
Based on the social media activity that followed the incident, it is a YES.
See how twitter accounts played with this incident (search for #unitedairlines on your account) and see one the tweets below. A tweet created the United Airlines “Fight Club”.
Autonomy and Management by the Crew Members.
Did the crew members have the autonomy and flexibility to offer more or better compensation to the customer? Why was $1350 not offered? If not, it was a mistake.
I thought that the pilot was the CEO on board the plane. Why wasn’t he directing or better managing such a situation? Was violence a possible option and was it discussed between the security guards and the cabin crew/ pilot? Once again, it does not seem that it was discussed!
Security Team and Management.
In a world dominated by Digital, nobody has thought that the use of force could have back fired on the Airline reputation and finances. Strange!
Has the security people acted in the best interest of Republic and United Airlines to avoid such an incident?
Training issue? Management issue? …
Has the “Communicator Award” received by the United Airlines CEO made his Team and himself too complacent and they forgot to re-enforce their vision and customer service focus both internally as well as externally with partners such as Republic Airlines?
Today, what clients appreciate is when the mentor is not just answering the mentee’s questions and concerns but also brings forward opportunities and challenges in the business as well as skills that every CEO or senior executives must have (may be those skills are also needed by the security guards!).
We have to assume that the security management team did not discuss what were the options to unboard a client as force cannot be used.
Fashion – United
When it comes to the Fashion World, agents and distributors can be outside parties however, as regards to the buyer, they represent you. We remember several incidents where some have failed to respect the exclusivity agreement the Fashion Brand had implemented and discussed. We remember other incidents where customer service was poorly managed by the agents and distributors and buyers decided to abandon the Brand: forced sales, goods returned by the buyer to the agent and the agent “sitting on the problem” and therefore no credit notes were raised and the invoice was chased for its full value…
The security guards acted like nobody else was on the plane & no camera was filming the incident and therefore like if every piece of the puzzle is independent.
Like in Fashion, all the pieces of the puzzle are linked to one another. It reminds us of a Brand where the sales team took orders and got goods shipped to a client over more than a year while the credit management team could not get payment for the goods shipped during the first season!
It falls down on the Brand to share vision and values and to ensure it gets delivered flawlessly every day and on every occasion.
Whether the people acting for you are inside or outside the business, they still need to deliver your vision and values to the letter.
Things come and go … matters can change fast and events are unpredictable.
How do you bring less pressure and better management every day in your business?
How valuable do you see an outside viewpoint to help the business progress better and faster and be more reactive to change?
Food & Beverage – United
In a previous experience, I had to work in the drinks Industry and it was not uncommon for a distributor to exclusively represent your Brand not so much to sell it but to prevent other distributors to take it and grow it. Are you over-excited to see a partner taking your Brand and forgetting that behind every opportunity, there are real challenges?
Mentors are here to help and provide you with the golden rules to follow and the mistakes to avoid. As you can see, we will be discussing increasing sales and profits as well as saving possibly up to $1M and possibly much more!
— Mobile Mike (@MOBILEMIKE_) April 13, 2017