Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hell has no fury like a customer scorned

We all know that if you have a bad meal you generally tell more people about that, than if it was a great meal – particularly if the service wasn’t up to scratch.

Recently published Forrester research looked to put some numbers behind how customer experience impacts word of mouth.
It confirms bad news travels faster than good news...
  • Bad news is discussed more frequently. For all industries except retail, consumers discussed bad experiences with more people than they discussed good ones.

And if that is bad news about airlines you tell more people....

  • Airlines face the largest negativity gap. While consumers will tell an average of 5.6 people about a bad experience with an airline, they will only tell 4.4 people about a good one — the largest negative gap across any industry.

Case in point is United Breaks Guitars.

Long story short, a guy flew United Airlines with his band, his guitar ended up broken at the hand of employees, and the airline offered no compensation. He responded by creating a music video about the experience (with two more to come). Now, United is feeling the wrath of citizen journalism, the social web, and the millions of airline travelers who can identify with Dave Carroll’s experience. Would you believe this song is now available on iTunes - music career pending.

You can read the whole story on Carroll’s blog, but this excerpt captures part of the back story behind the video:
“They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.”

Interestingly Chris Ayres of The Times Online in the U.K has but a value on this consumer backlash - $180 Million (10% of its market capital).

One of the many comments I seen in response to the video; “Nice to see that someone managed to cost United so dearly. Maybe they'll think next time about the people who really matter...The customers!”

United has now tried to offer payment to Dave Carroll, but he has refused. See his response here.

A lesson learnt for United I think.

No comments: