It’s been a bad few weeks for United Airlines. First, a passenger’s dog is placed in an overhead bin by a flight attendant despite the owner’s protest and it died in-flight. Then, United sent a dog bound for Kansas to Japan. Oops. As the airline reels in the face of a public relations disaster, they’re scrambling to save face. Just last week, they wound up offering a disgruntled passenger a $10,000 voucher when they bumped her from an oversold flight and she took her complaints public which went viral. But they may have been able to avoid these chain reactions with a few simple tips. This month, we look at 3 customer service musts for both management and employees.

For Management

Empower your employees to make good customer service decisions in the following ways:

  1. Communicate. Make sure staff understands your company policy when it comes to customer relations and keep them abreast of any changes. Consider scheduling regular trainings to keep the topic fresh on their minds.
  2. Rethink your culture. Do you practice what you preach? Review your internal practices and determine if there are changes you can make in order to foster a healthier company culture. This way, external relations will be a reflection of your organization as a whole.
  3. Be prepared. Chances are your employees are well versed in the fire escape routes in your office. The same should be true for potential PR disasters. Give employees the tools to identify and diffuse sticky situations and you might just avoid a customer service mess to begin with.

For Employees

Sometimes it’s up to you to make the right call when it comes to customer service. Here’s how:

  1. Speak up. Chances are, management won’t know about an issue unless someone with boots on the ground tells them. So be sure notify your supervisor or someone higher up when a sensitive issue arises. This way, the matter can be dealt with before it gets worse.
  2. Know when not to speak. If your organization is involved in a public PR matter, you may be contacted by members of the press. Consider clearing interviews with your employer first, or if appropriate, avoid them altogether.
  3. Stay one step ahead. Perhaps you see a PR blunder in the making. Go ahead and alert your superiors or, if necessary, take next steps. And note that your next move may be in line with company policy or may even be an exception to the rule, depending on the circumstance. Either way, you may just save the day.

United Airlines has some work to do. Coming back from a PR disaster is harder than preventing it from happening in the first place. Get ahead of the game, and work to keep your organization’s reputation intact.

Mulling Corporation