United Airlines – One Culture that needs Tinkerbell's Fairy Dust

As soon as I clicked, I suspected I had made a mistake.   Yep.  I had a parking pass for Disneyland in California.  But I was going to Florida.  I mentally set in for a defensive fight to get the massive Disney machine to refund the California parking.  In less than an hour I had an email from Disney telling me that the refund had been issued and they were sorry about the mix up.

When the customer has issues, and you are on your heels in retreat the real mission and intent comes out.  Is it about the business or is it about the customer?  The difference, all hyperbole aside, is clear in what the outcome for the customer is, AS SEEN BY THE CUSTOMER.

Disney knows that you can ride a roller coaster in hundreds of places.  Walt himself said the thing that would set them apart from these competitors would be his people. But if the employees are focuses on enforcing policy that runs counter to the true interests of the customer, then the resulting culture will extract the last ounce of blood, hoping the customer doesn’t “code out” of the relationship.

This counter customer culture is rampant in certain industries.  Cable companies, airlines in particular.  The United Airlines fiasco’s of 2017 are morbidly entertaining.   How can someone be so insensitive, even after they have been caught . . . again and again.

To do’s

If the guys at the top are not spending at least 20% of their time listening too and working on marketing, and strategic planning (I think it was Bill Hewlett who said that “80% of strategy is about marketing” and that “marketing was too important to leave to marketing department”) then having a pro-customer culture is an academic study in hypocrisy.   If the board and shareholders “get it” and the management team does not, you can either pull your investment and go elsewhere, or do the more humane thing and get those derelict leaders to go elsewhere.   The fish stinks from the head down.  The culture, and the customer’s experience, is an outgrowth of the values of those at the top.

Culture drives processes which drive culture.  Just try to change an organizations process and see which departments scream the loudest.  You will see what your culture is.  If the departments that wiggle and wag are internally focused, you have some basic work to do on philosophy, and direction.  The other choice is to open that magic safe that is in your basement and fund payroll out of the stashed cash.  That is what most of business thinks can happen anyway.  They do not understand that funding the business is done with the customers wallet.

It amazes me that I continue to fly on another airline that extracts about 25% more than the United Airlines ticket.  Does satisfaction carry a premium?   Is a mission of giving value profitable?   The Disney experience has got to be 10 times more expensive than the amusement park down the street.

Why spend your time and effort making excuses?  Why not expend the energy and watch others walk away with grins and happiness on their faces and in their hearts.

Let the fairy dust fly.



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