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This case clearly illustrates how social media platforms have affected customers. It also demonstrates how social media can affect public relations and ultimately the growth, competitiveness, and credibility of companies. The overwhelming response posed concerns about brands and the essence of marketing relations in the era of the Internet. This case revolves around the experience of Dave Carroll, a musician from Halifax, who traveled from Halifax to Chicago. Carroll claimed that his guitar was severely damaged by United Airlines baggage handlers. However, his claim for damages was denied by the airlines. Hence, he was forced to voice out his dissatisfaction with the customer service of the airlines through a video he posted on YouTube. The video entitled United Breaks Guitars soon became a hit and caused a negative impact on the airlines. This case study analysis looks into what the airlines could have done in situations like the one experienced by Carroll.
John Deighton and Leora Kornfeld
Harvard Business Review (510057-PDF-ENG)
January 06, 2010
Case questions answered:
- Why did Carroll’s videos garner so much attention?
- What were the main issues faced by the airlines? What did United Airlines do wrong?
- What should the airlines do or have done after the situation?
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Case answers for United Breaks Guitars
Executive Summary – United Breaks Guitars Case Study
The company, United Airlines, was founded in 1944. It handled around 45,413 passengers daily, with about 703 planes flying daily. It was a home to 88,000 employees.
In March 2008, Dave Carroll, a musician from Halifax, traveled from Halifax to Chicago. Carroll claimed that United Airlines baggage handlers severely damaged his guitar at O’Hare Airport. But, despite complaining about the damage, he felt that the complaint was neglected and ignored by the staff. His attempts to claim damages with United did not go well.
Carroll posted two amusing videos of the incident on YouTube in the form of a song called ‘United Breaks Guitars’. In the said video, he described his entire experience with United Airlines. As soon as it was released on the internet, it draws the attention of many people and immediately becomes a hit on YouTube. This incident reduced the United Stock Index by 10% and created enormous losses for the United States.
This case clearly illustrates how social media platforms have affected customers. It also demonstrates how social media can influence public relations and, ultimately, the growth, competitiveness, and credibility of companies. The overwhelming response posed concerns about brands and the essence of marketing relations in the era of the internet.
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