If you’ve been on a United flight in say – the past 12 to 24 months – it’s likely that you might not have been left with the best impression of the airline or that maybe they didn’t handle an irregularity right. And the stats back that up – they have the lowest approval rating amongst the big three US carriers, the other two being American and Delta.
And don’t get us wrong, United isn’t alone in this – airlines are often under fire for lacking in customer service when things go wrong – and it’s no surprise.
According to the Department of Transportation, in 2015, 18.28% of flights were delayed (among on 14 major US airlines), but for United Airlines (UA), the delay rate was marked at 20.31%. Delays mean angry passengers, and angry passengers call customer service – leaving passengers even angrier at times. It looks like United has taken notice and has appointed Kate Gebo as the Senior Vice President of Customer Service Delivery. This is a new role (and team) for the organization, and will manage UA’s customer-facing teams. According to United, the purpose of the team will be to “[integrate] all customer-facing functions in the company, to focus on improving the travel experience.”
“Our customers have told us they want a more consistent, positive experience, and bringing all of our people that serve customers daily into the same team ensures a great experience at every point in their travel.” – Scott Kirby, President of United.
It should be interesting to see what changes this new team will bring to United’s customer service.
So changes are afoot at United. The dark (very dark) days of former CEOs Glen Tilton and Jeff Smisek seem to be over with Oscar Munez, despite his questionable health. He seems intent on actually hearing and acting upon feedback from United and Star Alliances elites because gets that there’s actually a feedback loop here. It’s a dangerous game to play to only your shareholders and lining their and your own pockets at the expense of your elites – especially when your direct competitors are offering status matches left and right.
We’ll see how Gebo goes, the initial signs are positive. Couple this with investment in a new consistent product in Polaris and the extensive renovations being undertaken at United terminals in Los Angeles and Newark Liberty (which are already starting to look very good), it seems that the Friendly Skies are back at United.
For those of you who have jumped ship from UA in recent years, are these changes enough to lure you back to an old friend?