Broken Guitars – A Lesson in Customer Service

July 31, 2012

I am sure many of you remember the Youtube video that Sons of Maxwell lead Dave Carroll produced to express his frustration with United Airlines treatment of him after he discovered they had broken his Taylor guitar. The video went viral with over 12 million hits and still counting. What Caroll demonstrated so aptly was the power of consumers to impact businesses and organizations through social media. Reaching 12 million people to lodge a complaint through social media is a powerful tool and one that businesses need to be aware of when dealing with consumers.   Carroll has now released a new book on the power of social media in business relationships titled “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media” (Hay House USA, $19.95).    In addition he has set up a new website to help consumers with their complaints titled  At this site you are able to list your gripe and what you feel would be a remedy to the situation.  What is interesting about this site is you can view if the gripe has been settled between the business and the consumer.

There are lots of lessons from Carroll’s experience for us in the tourism industry.  First and foremost is our need to understand that what we do is 100% predicated on providing our guests and visitors with superior customer experiences from first contact right through the visitor cycle and post visit.   However, inevitably something will go wrong and people will have complaints or issues.  Great businesses meet these head on and are prepared to work with their visitors to resolve issues or at least make every attempt within reason.  The alternative to not listening to your visitor might just be the next big Youtube sensation and your worst business decision!