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Advice to United: Add a zero

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

After having its passenger dragged off an overbooked flight, here’s the statement United posted on behalf of CEO Oscar Munoz:

This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.

Here’s the statement the airline should have posted:

All of us at United were horrified by what happened on Flight 3411 last night. We have reached out to the passenger to apologize, offer assistance and make amends. Nothing is more important to United than the safety of our passengers. This incident doesn’t reflect our values, and we’re going to make sure it never happens again.

What to do in a situation where it’s obvious your company screwed up royally?

First, apologize immediately. Second, overreact to demonstrate that what happened doesn’t reflect the company’s values. Finally, think of an appropriate response and then “add a zero.”

— Adapted from “What not to do after your customer is battered,” Kara Alaimo, Bloomberg.

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