I was listening to NPR today (on a 10 hour car ride from Toronto to Cincinnati) and the guy on the radio was talking about a terrible experience he had with United Airlines. The experience made me laugh – as a frequent traveler, I’ve had far worse experience and remained much more calm many times.
As I was listening to his anger I realized something – it wasn’t so much that they screwed up (airlines screw up all the time), it was that they didn’t care.
Most big businesses – airlines, cable providers cell phone providers – bring out the worst in people – we hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.
I was on a Delta flight that was 4 hours late – when they announced the delay they offered free beverages and snacks and you could almost feel the frustration level decline. For less than $1 a passenger they made their customers happy.
By contrast, I had issues with American Airlines (where I have status) and have had my anger level escalate dramatically – not because of the actually issue but because of the rude and uncaring attitude of the employees.
When people get really mad at a company (mad enough to leave a bad review for example, it isn’t just because the bad experience. It is because they simply don’t seem to care.
As a company, apathy can be your worst nightmare.