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