One of the biggest problems of the failed Smisek era at United Airlines was that FAs and gate agents lost much of their flexibility. Rules were strictly enforced with consequences for bending them, but anti-customer policies were also implemented. This made front-life staff “whipping posts” for disgruntled passengers. In the post-Dao Munoz era, FAs are gaining some of their autonomy back, now empowered to address problems with compensation on the spot.
In its promise to overhaul customer service, United pledged to “empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.” That’s now happening onboard all United flights.
United FAs each have an iPhone with an app that contains flight information and details about passengers. A new update to the app enables them to provide on-the-spot “goodwill gestures” to customers including miles and travel credits. This compensation is not intended for flight delays or cancellations, but for onboard issues like broken tray tables or spilled beverages.
There is no papwerwork and miles post immediately. In beta testing last month, United claims that 88% of about 1,500 cases were immediately resolved and required no follow-up to customer service.
Trusting FAs with more discretion, makes for happier passengers and happier FAs. Even better, it cuts down on needless paperwork and allows customer service agents to respond to more important matters. This is a good step forward for United.
Image courtesy of United
Finally!! They are getting it. You can turn irate people into doting fans if you allow the front line people to use their talents and charm the disgruntled.
guaranteed this benefit will be abused. now losers will be asking for compensation for ANY tiny problem, and use the threat of social media bullying to force the FAs to do their bidding.
I totally agree with you. The floodgates will open as far as complaints about being “disserviced” for every little thing. Yeah, give away the store United. What are you going to do when more and more people make demands and want you to up the ante ? This isn’t customer service, it’s payoffs and bartering with customers. This approach is like parents shoving their kid in front of the TV or giving them treats or toys to get them out of their hair.
How about a “novel” approach (go back a few pages in the customer service history of the airlines) – stop money-grabbing on the booking end, get rid of some fees (ie., first bag free), no extra charge for legroom (first come, first serve at time of booking), no charge for meals. There are so many ways United and other airlines can win back their customers by “re-visiting” the way things were done 10-20 years ago.
@henry LAX payback for years of abuse by United . what goes around comes around.
I sincerely hoped they also empowered FAs to smile, be kind and corteous to passenger along the way. Offering assistance and help goes much further than pulling a phone, and give someone a miles and compensation. Thats the basic of hospitality industry…..
This concept applies to every business/industry. If the people in charge can’t trust their employees to properly exercise discretion, the right answer is finding new employees, not taking away discretion.
Delta has been doing this for ages. They even awarded miles to pax who proactively pointed to issues need addressing such as filthy surfaces, broken equipment and problems meeting special needs requirements. It becomes tricky business when something like a swap in aircraft is done and hundreds of pax request goodwill compensation for changed seats and lost special meals.
I was recently offered a choice between miles or cash while onboard. I took the cash (flight credit). Days later, nothing but crickets. Wondering if I’ll ever see that, maybe should’ve taken the miles!