Dear United Airlines,
You’ve had a tough week, haven’t you? I mean there was that late flight out of Albany, that mishap with the lady who lost her luggage at LAX and, oh yeah, that paying customer you forcibly drug off an airplane in front of dozens of iPhone wielding witnesses.
We all have tough weeks. I mean, who HASN’T dealt with a public relations crisis involving the assault of a paying customer? I know you are probably getting a TON of unsolicited advice about how you should treat people who fly wish to fly the friendly skies. You should probably listen to it instead of crafting terribly worded “apologies” that were more like “Sorry. Not sorry.” But I will spare you from reading another one of those blogs. It’s time to talk about your employees.
I know you may not have a lot of energy to think about your employees right now outside of the few that were on board when the shit hit the fan. Reminder – You have thousands of employees who are going to suffer from this incident through no fault of their own. Every single jerk 50+ year old man in a golf shirt is going to be using this incident to their advantage to get free drink tickets for the foreseeable future. You’ll have people insisting they’ve been manhandled by the beverage service cart. Not to mention the lovely trolling you are experiencing on the internet right now. Who does this impact? Your bottom line? Probably. Your employees? Absolutely.
The guy that handles curb-side check in’s – he needs to know you’ve got his back. The customer service agent at the gate who has to be overly nice the next few weeks needs to hear that you understand they’ve been impacted. Your social media staff needs an on call masseuse and someone to hold them every few hours to deal with the haters online. Make it happen, folks. Pay for it all. Love on your employees right now. They need it.
I’m sure you have called in the big dogs in crisis management. They’ll be fine. That’s how they make the big bucks. I’m positive you have been working overtime on damage control. There’s no doubt your CEO will be hitting the cable TV shows soon to put “a human face” to your brand. (Good luck with that, btw.) Before you prep your next tone deaf public statement, come up with a more important plan. Think of 100 ways you are going to support all of your normal everyday employees through this tough time and then put those ways into action. Go above and beyond now. Make it meaningful – not just an emailed prepared statement. Make it abundantly clear that you support your staff because if you don’t, you will most certainly have even more horrendous PR moments on your plate to deal with in the near future.
A Southwest Airline Customer for Life