As an audience member watching Dave Carroll’s music video for “United Breaks Guitars,” I was thoroughly entertained. If I were an Online Reputation Manager for United Airlines, I would be embarrassed that the problem had escalated to this level. Because of this incident, I would not only have to fix the reputation of United Airlines in Carroll’s view, but for the entire audience that also watched the video.
First let’s focus on the most important person in this situation, Dave Carroll. Without even knowing the full story, I would sincerely apologize to him for what he has gone through. I might tell him an anecdote of a less than ideal experience I have had on a plane to let him know that I understand the frustration he is feeling. Then I would reassure him that the next time he flew with United, someone would see to it that his luggage was handled with care when it is loaded onto the plane. I would also try to find out who he spoke to during his request and find out if they acted under the current policy of United Airlines. If not, I would make sure the people in charge were made aware of the situation so they could reprimand the employees who didn’t act properly.
United would gladly reimburse Carroll for the guitar that was damaged or replace it altogether, as well as extra compensation for the year that it took for this problem to be resolved. The compensation can be ethically justified because United was not swift in trying to fix the issue. I would ask Dave Carroll if there was anything else United Airlines could do for him. I might consider asking for his input on how we can handle these types of situations if they were ever to come up again. Finally, I would check in with him via social media occasionally to see if he had received his compensation and if he was satisfied with the outcome of this problem.
As for the United Airlines audience who viewed this video, it might be difficult to salvage the reputation of the airline in their eyes. I would release a public statement on social media, stating that we apologize for the delay, we are working with Carroll to resolve the issue and anyone else having an issue is encouraged to contact us. I would inform the audience that we are training our current and new luggage handlers to be more careful so we can prevent another incident like this in the future. I would not grovel, but I would also say that I hope this incident does not change the minds of the audience to choose United Airlines for their future travels.