The flight was overbooked.
And one passenger refused to give up his seat and leave the plane. So security forcefully removed him from the flight.
This isn’t a piece about whether United Airlines was wrong, and this isn’t a piece about whether the passenger was right. Instead, this is a pretty simple evaluation of one thing we can learn from the incident and apply to our own businesses.
The lesson: Never lose sight of your customer.
United will bounce back from this PR disaster. Most large companies do.
Just a few days before United made headlines, it was Pepsi that was under the microscope for it’s controversial commercial with Kendall Jenner and a police officer. In the airline industry itself, Delta was the airline taking the most heat, although this had more to do with storms than an Uber-CEO-in-the-back-seat-of-an-Uber moment.
Then United took center stage.
Most people have moved on already from feeling upset by those stories, and people will soon move on from United’s.
But while these things won’t kill the big companies, it could certainly kill your startup.
When people are nothing more than “users,” then you will lose sight of what they really need. When people are nothing more than “consumers,” then you will lose sight of who they really are. When people are nothing more than “passengers,” then you will lose sight of the fact that they have places to be and you’re the one to get them there.
And when you lose sight of people, you lose them.
When you lose them, you lose.
To win, don’t ever lose sight of your people.
Photo: Flickr/Victor Semionov