If You Break My Guitar, I Will Hurt You

Below is a great story from the Right Now Customer Experience blog that I can really relate to.

Dave Carroll’s story depicts the value of great customer experience and illustrates that spending a little can save millions when it comes to your brand’s reputation.

In 2008, Dave was flying United Airlines with his band Sons of Maxwell when a passenger sitting next to the window exclaimed that the baggage handlers were “throwing guitars out there.”

Carroll’s guitar was broken. He spent the next nine months in a service maze pursuing compensation. Eventually, customer service at United Airlines told him they were closing the incident and would not respond to any further emails.

Carroll vowed to write three songs about the experience and post them on YouTube, hoping to achieve a million views with all three combined. But he did much better. He hit one million on the first song within one week, and is at six and a half million views at last count. A media frenzy ensued and United’s market capitalization dropped $180 million over the next three weeks.

As of today there are over 6 million views of this video, and several parodies and add on’s.   Dave has appeared on CBS News, CNN and other major media outlets, telling his story.  Do you think United could have handled this better?  How are you handling your customer issues today – are you delighting those who complain, or encouraging them to spread poison?

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One Response to “If You Break My Guitar, I Will Hurt You”

  1. Mark M on December 8th, 2009:

    It is hard to buy into investing in great customer service because it’s effects are hard to measure, and often times the efforts go unnoticed even by consumers. If United had a great customer service set up and the issue was resolved quickly, no one would have been left singing.

    It’s good to have an example of bad service taking it’s toll.