United Aggressively Responds to "United Breaks Guitars Part 2"

Last Updated Aug 24, 2009 11:06 AM EDT

I know United said it had learned from its mistakes in dealing with the now-famous song "United Breaks Guitars," but I didn't know whether to believe it or not. Now I do. They are getting smarter.

You remember this whole saga, right? Musician Dave Carroll flying on United saw his guitar get tossed around on the ramp. He found it was broken, and after months of trying to solve the problem, he gave up and wrote a song. It exploded on YouTube and made United look just ridiculous. They said it "struck a chord" with them (lame pun, yes) and that they would be more proactive in the future.

Well now they have their chance. Dave Carroll released his long-awaited song #2, and it's definitely a bigger production. It's kind of catchy, but it's definitely not going to make its way to my iPod. Still, I decided to tweet it . . .

@UnitedAirlines breaks guitars part deux (i think i like this one better) - http://bit.ly/K37pX 8:48 AM Aug 18th from TweetDeck
At 944a, less than an hour later, I had a direct message from United saying to check my email regarding the new video. Sure enough, United spokesperson Robin Urbanski had sent me a long email directly addressing the issue.

Yes, these videos have struck a chord with all of us here.

In recent statements on YouTube, Mr. Carroll described our baggage service representative as a "great employee who acted in the best interests of the company," and I could not agree more with that.

He has made his point, I have since been in contact with him to fix, and I am now his BFF.

The second video is suggesting we do something that we've already done -- and that is to provide our agents with a better way to escalate and respond to special situations.

While his anecdotal experience is unfortunate, the fact is that 99.95 percent of our customers' bags are delivered on-time and without incident, including instruments that belong to many Grammy award-winning musicians.

As you know, in our business, how we conduct ourselves is important, and we do understand that treating each other and our customers in a courteous and respectful manner is a vital part of running a good airline.
I'm sure this was a form letter that was sent out to everyone who commented, but that's ok. (The webby use of "BFF" however, is really lame.) Still, the personalized effort to repond to tweets with this was the key. It not only responds to the issues in Dave's second video, but it also throws out some cold hard facts on the number of lost bags to help change the focus of the message. It probably has altered the conversation to some extent, and I don't think United will see anything like the backlash they saw after Dave's first effort.

Good job, United.
  • Brett Snyder

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