The Customer Has the Podium

united-airlines-logo.jpg Customer service will never be the same, thanks to the Internet. Those who deal with the public — especially in the complaints department — need to remember that failing to impress the customer at a critical moment could backfire in a very big way. In Internet time it’s already old news, but the aftermath of United Airlines declining liability for a guitar they broke is going to cost them far more than the cost of a guitar. Even a custom-built one. Maybe they didn’t know that Dave Carroll was going to launch a viral video. Maybe they weren’t paying attention to Terry Heaton’s visit to CompUSA. In contrast to United, Taylor Guitars responds with helpful information about traveling with your guitar — they’ve also offered to repair his damaged Taylor 710ce, and have given him his choice of a new guitar.

The real lesson here has nothing to do with guitars. The real lesson is that the Internet can now be used to level the playing field. The complaints department of a major corporation used to be invincible, not requiring much in the way of listening skills. They could simply issue an unfavorable response to the customer and leave it at that. The customer had no recourse. Unfortunately for this mentality, the customer now has an equalizing command of the podium.