I’m hearing from an inside source that United Airlines has embarked upon a major reeducation course (they call it “training”) for front-line employees, focusing on improving customer service.
Trainings are routine and ordinarily not newsworthy. But in light of the Dao controversy and the public spotlight on United, I do think the emphasis of this training is interesting…in a good way.
United has defined four core principles (“core4”) it will focus its training on. These include:
These are ranked in order of priority by United. It’s almost an admission of guilt that caring comes before dependable and efficient. Oh, we’re sorry your flight is late and we took two hours to turn the plane, but we care…
But I actually think United is onto something. United’s improved operational performance has shown that for the most part, it is dependable and efficient. That’s expected for any airline. But what’s not expected for United, at least the way I see it, is “caring” service. You often get it…but gruffness and rudeness are also unfortunately common.
United understands that it must deliver outstanding customer service to make United a leading global competitor. This conception of service is invariably linked to such small things like whether a FA smiles or snarls or whether a gate agent is empathetic or apathetic. I don’t know if that will be the “care” focus, but I sure hope so.
Without being too cynical, it is indeed the case that the “safe” priority is a trump card…anything can be turned into a safety issue with the right spin. But come on…it’s not realistic to expect anything else. We can also just say that FAs are too set in their ways, unions are too strong, etc…but that is counterproductive. When Oscar Munoz took over for Jeff Smisek, morale (and with it, service) notably improved. There is no reason to sell people short. Let’s see if United can improve in 2018.