Chapter 4 Reading – United Airlines Article Regarding Captain Denny Flanagan

September 16, 2009

As a former United Airlines frequent flyer, what stood out from this article was the flyertalk poster who commented that, based on the poor customer service he typically received on United Airlines flights, Captain Flanagan’s actions came across as representing his own standards more than the company’s.  My wife and I stopped flying United Airlines around the time this article was written, in large part because of the poor customer service, so that comment really hit home for me. It really speaks to the impact negative employees can have on customer perceptions that, in this article highlighting Captain Flanagan’s excellent attitude and customer service, what stands out to this former United Airlines customer is the negative point made regarding United Airlines’ overall customer service performance.

Clearly Captain Flanagan knows that, in a competitive industry like the airline industry, employee attitude really does have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. The effect here is two fold. Firstly, customers really do appreciate someone who cares about what they are doing and makes sure that the customer knows that their business is appreciated. Secondly, this type of attitude is infectious amongst coworkers. For example, when I have flown with pilots like Captain Flanagan, the rest of the flight crew always seemed to be in top form—far more personable and helpful than the usual flight crew.

The opposite is also true of course. It only takes one employee with a really negative attitude to ruin a customer’s experience. If the customer can tell that the employee does not want to be there and could not care less about the customer’s needs, that customer is going to have a negative experience and it is going to color that customer’s perception of the company as a whole. With the advent of the internet, even a one off negative experience can become a real problem, as customers can easily spread the word about their negative experience, something that can take a real bite out of any business’s bottom line.

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