NEW ORLEANS: United Airlines, the air carrier, is seeking to develop industry-leading policies and customer experiences in order to strengthen its brand following a recent crisis which saw a passenger being dragged from an overbooked flight.
Mark Krolick, VP/Marketing, United Airlines, discussed this subject at the 2017 Collision Conference, an event held in New Orleans in early May.
And he reflected on the high-profile incident last month where consumer-generated footage went viral of David Dao, a doctor from Kentucky, being forcibly removed from an oversold United flight which was set to leave Chicago.
"Obviously, it's been a really tough couple of weeks for United. And, obviously, if you're sitting in the marketing chair, it's even more difficult," said Krolick. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: United Airlines seeks to recover after brand nosedive.)
"We made some really bad mistakes – and that was clear. And everybody around the world got to see that."
More specifically, millions of people in major markets from the US to China viewed the clip, while the media also covered the story in depth, raising questions about standard policies and customer-centricity at United and across the airline industry.
"What we're doing now is: We're doing the right thing. We're fixing it. We're putting policies in place to make sure what happened three weeks ago can never happen again," Krolick said.
"Not only that, but we're going to take the lead in the industry to make sure it doesn't happen anywhere in the industry. But we're going to go much further than that."
Among the new policies laid out in United's "Review and Action Report" on the incident involving Dr Dao were to establish a customer-solutions team to help solve problems, empower on-the-ground employees and reduce overbooking.
Beyond that, United will continue with its strategy of "co-creating" products with consumers and staff members, as was the case with its "Polaris" international business class service that it rolled out earlier this year.
Krolick suggested that offering superior experiences that match those that consumers receive anywhere from digital services to popular restaurants is the way to build long-term customer engagement.
"It all starts with providing a great experience. We breached that trust a few weeks ago. That is going to be fixed. And that will never happen again. And we're just going to go from there," he said.
Data sourced from WARC