Monday, July 13, 2009

United Breaks Guitars - A Lesson in Viral Communications

There’s always more to the story but one thing’s for sure. Take complaints seriously. They are a gift to organizations that advocate continuous and never ending improvement. And left unattended, with Web 2.0 complaints can go viral rapidly.

When two blogger friends, first Chris Elliott and then Bill Geist first brought to my attention the great video/song “United Breaks Guitars”by Dave Carroll it had already reached 500,000 views and this morning it is zooming past 2.6 million.

United responded after 50,000 views and made an offer which Dave suggested they give to charity. Then Dave posted a video revealing that United Airlines had been in contact with an offer. He’s doing a follow up song and video.

Research showing that negative information is 2.5 times more powerful than positive may be a bit dated now than viral communication like this are proving it could very well be many times that.

Complaints are a gift. An opportunity to improve. At least four different people and maybe more could have assertively resolved this issue on the spot, regardless of policy, by adamantly and passionately advocating for the customer.

So much more than scratching this itch. United is wise when they asked Carroll if they could use the video in training. But the company may want to look deeply into the corporate culture that blocked the process.

This link takes you to more detail on what went wrong.

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