A United Airlines Post Mortem Discussion, With Diane Magers – CB48

Episode Overview

The United Airlines incident is eventually going to fade from public consciousness, but I wanted to try and address it a few times. As we all know, customer experience happens in the real world — it’s companies and organizations interacting with their customers. Because of the vast scale of mobile/digital now, some of these interactions are seen live by 100 people — then seen by millions (if not billions) globally when they spread. That’s what happened with the United incident. Oscar Munoz, the CEO, apparently will retain that title but is being denied his promotion to Chairman. Their earnings are dropping. The repercussions are real.

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the employee experience side of the United incident. Here, I invited Diane Magers — a long-time friend — to do a Post Mortem podcast with me.

About Diane

Bliss MagersDiane is currently CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

Prior to that, she held high-ranking, customer-facing roles at AT&T and Sysco.

I’d describe Diane as a passionate CX professional and change agent. Sherpa for new and developing customer obsessed leaders. Thought leader and innovator for ways of engaging associates and customers. Spirited entrepreneur. Skilled in business benefits development and systematically embedding CX into an organization. Believe that brands who win choose to focus on human and emotional elements. Develops the hearts and minds of others. Firm executor in the pay it forward model. Writer, speaker and artist. Friend.

What We Wanted To Accomplish Here

Because the format of this podcast is slightly different, I’m not going to break down notes for every section. I encourage you to listen to the full conversation because it is an important look at how companies should deal with, and rebound from, issues such as what happened with United.

These critical elements are addressed:

  1. Immediate response – was there a “peace process” enacted immediately with a swift response?
  2. Did the response show remorse and humility?
  3. Is the company all hands on deck, uniting the silos to take action and resolve the situation?
  4. Are they taking accountability and solving?

Now a moment on the “peace process” idea.

A Peace Process Guide

Decide to say sorry peace process 300pxI’ve actually developed this over the course of my career, and I wanted to make it available for download (free, no opt-in required) for any customer leaders in organizations struggling with similar (maybe not at the same scale) issues as United. Here it is:

No Opt-In Required

You Must Connect With Both Sides

One of the big takeaways of this discussion is the need to connect with both employees and customers in situations such as this. Too often, companies focus on the customer side (because that’s where the revenue is), which can lead to alienation of employees (who feel confused and disconnected from the brand in a time like this). You absolutely have to deal with both sides of the equation, not just one. Losing revenue from customers turning on you is bad, but losing hundreds of employees because they feel you didn’t handle the situation properly can be just as bad or worse.

We discuss a few elements of swift action United can (and should) be taking now throughout this episode.

Finally, I’d welcome feedback and discussion on your views/take on United and what happened, what they should do, etc. You can leave a comment here, email me, or get in touch on LinkedIn. In times when CX blow-ups rise to the fore, I love to hear what my colleagues and friends are thinking about the big picture.

2 comments to " A United Airlines Post Mortem Discussion, With Diane Magers – CB48 "

  • I enjoyed the podcast and heard a lot of interesting points made but I can’t get one question out of my mind:

    What is it about the culture at United Airlines that prevented the flight crew from jumping between the airport security team and THEIR BELOVED CUSTOMER? Even forgetting about their role as employees, what about simple human decency and empathy? This incident reminded me of violent crimes where bystanders don’t intervene.

    Until United understands the cultural flaw that allowed this incident to occur there is no way they can prevent another incident like this one in the future. A company can’t foresee or plan for these events.

  • Jeanne Bliss

    Robert I agree. It’s hard to believe that those wonderful people who are fathers, brothers, husbands, mothers and sisters didn’t jump in.

    the only thing i can think of is that the rules supersede everything else. Agree mightily that change needs to occur.


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