United needs to do something about incompetent employees

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Earlier today I read Matthew’s post on LALF about the concerning treatment of an elderly woman in a United flight.  This of course on top of last week’s flight 3411 incident were an Asian man was significantly injured and dragged out of a United flight for failing to disembark the aircraft when asked by law enforcement.  Although I tend to be less emotional than most in terms of Dr. Dao’s contributions to his own injury, one thing is becoming very clear: there’s a large number of incompetent United airlines personnel, both at the airport and in the air.

This makes me think that one of the following is happening:

  • United isn’t conducting formal performance reviews with its front line associates.
  • If conducting formal performance reviews, then United isn’t gathering the appropriate set of data to have the necessary insight into each employee’s performance.
  • If conducting formal performance reviews AND gathering the appropriate data, then United is failing to hold employees accountable for their incompetence or deviation from the ‘friendly skies’ values that the company swears by.
  • If conducting formal performance reviews AND gathering the appropriate data AND claiming to hold employees accountable, then United doesn’t deserve anyone’s business.

So which one is it?  How is it that I can receive excellent service quite often, while both Dr. Dao and the elderly woman from LALF’s write up didn’t? Being fair to United, I can imagine that it’s difficult to balance the complaints of overly irritable and non-conformist customers vs. what the employees themselves perceive.  Regardless, something that United needs to and is hopefully learning throughout this ordeal is that customer perception, while perhaps not entirely factual, matters immensely…yes, even more than profit.  If the standard is to ‘wow’ consistently, you can bet customer complaints will decrease, though it will take time, especially after the last couple of months.

Notice one of the bullet points in United’s Customer Committment document:

Ensure responsiveness to customer complaints

We respond quickly to our customers’ complaints. If you have a complaint regarding our services or our product, we want to hear from you. Information about where to direct your written complaint is on our website; on all E-ticket® confirmations; and is available upon request at each United ticket counter and boarding gate in the airports we serve. We will acknowledge written complaints within 30 days of receipt and we will send a substantive written response within 60 days of receiving your written complaint.

Well United, the world is complaining about your customer service and experience.  Please kindly respond, and respond quickly.

Give me your thoughts