Let me just start by saying: If a customer is so far at their wit’s end in dealing with your company’s customer service that it inspires them to write a whole song, you’re doing something very, very wrong.

The job of customer service is to keep a customer satisfied with the company and its product, which will prompt that customer to share their satisfaction with their friends and family and then continue on with their life. Not write a song, much less three, like Dave Carroll did about United Airlines breaking his guitar. Here’s the first song that started it all:


So, I’m going to pretend that the United Airlines customer service team put has Carroll through the wringer for a year, leading him to write this song (not so difficult to imagine!). Let’s also pretend that I’m an online reputation manager for United in 2009, when the video was first posted, and it hasn’t gotten 14 million page views over the past (nearly) five years yet.

First, I would comment on the YouTube video and say something like this: “Dave, I apologize that you have been going through this ordeal in trying to get your guitar fixed. Please email me at amanda@united.com so that I may get this issue fixed for you once and for all.” This YouTube comment will not only show Dave that we are listening, but other potential customers as well. We want to gain Dave’s trust back and keep the trust of our other customers.

To be sure Dave saw my message, I would track down his contact information (which can easily be found by going to the website he lists at the beginning of his video) and essentially reiterate the overall message in the YouTube comment: that we are sorry, that we are listening and that we are ready and willing to fix the problem. Once I got a hold of him, I would get to the heart of what he REALLY wants. He’s past the point of wanting compensation at this point, especially because Taylor Guitars gave him some new axes. What he really wants is an apology, and a promise that our policies will change for current and future customers.

A great way to convey our response to Dave and our commitment to our other customers would be to make a YouTube video of our own, perhaps a song. Asking Dave to work with us on creating a song would be a great way of fostering good will with Dave and restoring our customers’ faith in us. We would work to make Dave a brand evangelist of ours instead of the opposite.

It all comes down to taking care of customers correctly the first time, and a social media reputation manager can help in doing that by sounding the first alarm. After all, in hindsight, wouldn’t United much rather have paid $1,200 in flight vouchers to Dave and just have that bad publicity never happen?

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