Airlines are usually at the mercy of our acid tongues when it all goes wrong and the flight is delayed. However it is a rare thing to read about when they get it right, and in United Airlines case when they go more than the extra mile for a passenger.
Kerry Drake’s mother was dying and he had to get back to Texas in time to say goodbye.
He knew his making his connection in Houston was going to be tight but he had no other option. Almost instantly his hopes were dashed as the first leg of his mammoth trip from San Francisco was delayed before he even took off. It became clear Mr Drake’s mother could well have passed away before he managed to get home and when they landed in Houston he was distraught.
However the pilot and crew at United had other ideas.
The pilot from the SF flight radioed ahead on landing to get the second United flight held for him. Mr Drake made the connecting flight, and more importantly was able to say farewell to his mother before she passed away.
Something as simple as listening to a customer and putting them first can have a profound impact on the customer experience. Not only this, but the reputation of the company itself is seen in a completely different perspective from both the customer’s point of view and the world at large.
Putting the customer first is literally a win-win for all concerned. And in United Airline’s case, reuniting a mother and son for a final farewell is a priceless customer experience moment that will resonate as a shining example for others to follow.
Clare Jeeves is a Consulting Manager at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and specializes in financial and regulatory impacts across Financial Services and the customer experience.