The foundation of every relationship, whether that be a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a business relationship, is trust. Without trust, your relationships will be toxic, or negative. Trust is the first thing you must build in order to have a successful relationship, whether that be in love or in business. Once trust is broken, it can destroy a relationship, and could lead you to many hardships. In the business world once trust is broken it can be extremely difficult to reestablish, and sometimes it cannot be done. When client trust is lost it is important that you follow the right steps to fix the problem.
One of the best examples of loss of a client’s trust in business would be one involving United Airlines. If you haven’t heard about what happened, here’s a link for you to do a bit of deeper research on your own. Basically, United Airlines forcibly and involuntarily removed a passenger off of an overbooked flight in order to free up space for some of their crew members. They had security drag the passenger off the plane, where he experienced some injuries. Clearly, they lost the trust of that passenger and the many passengers on the plane who observed the situation in disgust. That’s not the end of it though! In today’s age of social media, almost nothing goes unnoticed. The video went viral and was all over the news. Soon on twitter a hashtag saying “#boycottUnited” began to trend. United was and still is in hot water. The best thing to do is for the CEO to address the problem, and make right by the customer who was injured. Unfortunately, the United CEO failed to do so correctly only saying, “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” he said. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” He did not mention being apologetic for the injuries and trauma caused to the passenger at all. Due to his terrible handling of the situation he has then issued two additional apologies and United’s stocks have dropped 69%.
It seemed like the CEO skipped a couple of the steps outlined in The Geek Leader’s Handbook, on how to resolve client conflict and restore trust. He clearly wasn’t prepared, which is the first step, he did not find the feelings, which is the third step, he did not handle the feelings, which was the 7th step, and due to missing all of these he did not handle the problem, which is the final step. This is a prime example of the effects of losing client trust and failing to restore it. This has caused United to lose billions of dollars, as well as the CEO being asked by many to step down. Although passengers are subject to being removed due to overbooked flights, the way it was handled was totally inappropriate. The CEO should have primarily focused on stating that, and then establishing a better policy for these situations. He should also have directly and publically reached out to the victim and accommodate him in any way in order to fix their relationship. After all, at the end of the day, the customer is always right, and if you try to dispute that, just like in this case, you could end up losing a lot of money.
Through United Airlines we are able to see the incorrect way to deal with a loss of client trust. In order to restore lost client trust, we should reference the above-mentioned steps. Also, we should publically and personally reach out to the clients affected and find a way to accommodate them and reestablish that trust. A customer’s trust should be just as valuable as a sale. Through their trust can come future business, and even new customers. Clearly, this is not something a company should ever be able to afford to lose. United with the customer we stand divided from the customer we fall.