Friday, July 10, 2009

Dave Carroll gets satisfaction from United Airlines

Very nice 'effectiveness of social media' story.

Dave Carroll, from the band Sons of Maxwell, had a guitar damaged in transit on a United Airlines flight about 15 months ago. Someone witnessed the baggage handlers throwing his $3,500 (packed up) guitar around, and when he got off the flight he found that the guitar was 'severely damaged'. He went through the proper channels, but United, while admitting that it happened, refused to compensate him.

He then announced that he was going to record 3 songs about it, make videos of each one, and put them up on YouTube.

The first video was uploaded on 6th July, and within 4 days has had 1.3m views. Dave has also been interviewed on the radio in the US, and a Google news search throws up nearly 400 results for the story. United have now been in touch eith him, and promised to put things right, and even use the video in training (see the tweet here).

[Update] Dave has since responded to their offer, again on YouTube: He's not completely happy with their response, and is still intending to post the other videos:

It shows the power of social media, but it also shows a potentially dangerous digital divide. Dave Carroll was able to acheive this because he had the necessary skills to make it happen. Recently one of my colleagues wanted to get in touch with Clearspring, the application seeding company, and was getting really frustrated with not being able to contact them through the 'normal' channels (i.e. emailing, phoning their office, and trying to get hold of someone who could help. This is their online contact page. He didn't have a name of a specific person to ask for). Within about 5 minutes of tweeting someone had got in touch with us.

Very impressive (thanks Clearspring!), but my point is this: Don't monitor social media instead of having a good phone structure and contact system. If someone without digital knowledge had had their luggage damaged (and clearly this happens a lot), the should still be able to get the same level of service as someone with access to a fast broadband connection. Don't make people get annoyed enough with you that they have to tweet that they are annoyed to see if you reply. Monitoring social media does not replace good internal procedures and systems!


Anonymous said...

It terms of social media, the tactic that Carroll took was phenomenal. Great video, recognizable brand, and a complaint. In terms of social media for United.... eek. They have a lot of work cut out for them. What one man did now has almost completely ruined their brand for a long time to come.

Dan said...

Further to this, read Priyanka's post about how companies respond to celebs like Stephen Fry on twitter, but not to the rest of us:

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