A lot has been written about the forcible removal of Dr Dao, covering failings at every level of United’s organisation. The somewhat grim truth is that it probably won’t stop most customers flying with the airline, despite their near universal condemnation of United’s actions and post-event response.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, we spoke to a group of 10 Millennials in the US to gauge their thoughts on the post event response and its impact on their future travel habits. Only 4 positively ruled out flying with United and of these only 2 had previously used the airline. Most agreed they’d still fly with United, for sometimes depressing reasons. There was almost universal agreement it won’t affect long term prospects for the airline.
Participants will continue to fly with the airline as it’d likely be on its A-game going forward, offering deals and in some cases, they saw the company’s side of the event. The reasons behind expectation of minimal long term impact were a bit more depressing;
Despite poor handling by United, other companies like BP and Toyota have bounced back from similar events, and it’s only a matter of time before the next corporate scandal. Customers have increasingly short attention spans and as soon as it’s out the spotlight, they’ll forget.
While this is obviously not a representative sample size, it demonstrates very low expectations of corporate behaviour, with assumptions that the market will simply lurch from one scandal to the next. The scary thing is, if there’s no firm response from customers themselves on the corporate bottom line, it reduces the incentive for customer centric behaviour.