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United’s feedback phone number to be grounded

By February 23, 20093 Comments

United Airlines customer service phone number grounded

In an era where companies are beginning to adopt and embrace social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and blogs to listen to and interact with their customers, United Airlines has decided to eliminate its customer complaint and complement phone lines this April.

Claiming research concluded that “people who e-mail or write us are more satisfied with our responses,” the company will now require feedback be shared via letter or email.

United’s commitment:

When our customers have questions or complaints, we will respond with the required information within 30 days in a professional, courteous manner that reflects the high value we place on each customer.

Within 30 days? Does that really reflect a “high value” on each customer?

This policy is a huge mistake.

Eliminating the call-in option will mute the voices of customers that don’t have or won’t take the time to go online, find an email or physical address and then craft a thoughtful message detailing their discontent.

I don’t know about you, but most of my service complaints happen when someone has wasted my time. Now, United is forcing customers to waste even more time when they have a bad experience.

As the airline industry struggles, United should be doing all they can to keep their customers happy.

With a goal of client delight, they should publicize their customer service number, encourage people to call it, actively listen and then respond accordingly.

Heck, throw in a sympathetic ear every now and then and you might even drive some positive word of mouth for the company.

So what do you think? Is United justified in their actions, or should they re-think this?

Comment below to weigh in.

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Image: AP/ M. Spencer Green via

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Jeff Stern says:


    First, It’s entirely predictable that people are more satisfied by the responses to e-mails and letters than they are to responses from the phone.

    People are likely more rational and in a better state of mind when e-mailing rather than calling. I get that. Callers are more likely to need immediate assistance and less likely to be generous or grateful. It’s probably a terrible time to even ask questions about satisfaction.

    People looking for help on the phone expect immediate help, and anything longer than 24 hours for a call back is poor service (that window may be shorter depending on industry/product/complaint/issue). People looking for help via email expect quick help, and anything less than 48 hours response time is poor service – even a “i’ve routed this to the appropriate person and they will respond within the week” e-mail will suffice (again the window may vary). 30 days seems appropriate for a mailed letter, although I’m including the mailbox to mailbox and back time.

    The airline industry as a whole is one that I think might most benefit from Kathy Sierra’s suggestion of spending their entire marketing budget on delighting their current customers through exemplary service.

  • Chuck J says:

    Most airlines, of course, are the anti-marketers. If something makes good marketing sense, they’ll stop that nonsense immediately. Wasn’t there a recent rumor that one of the budget airlines was considering charging for the use of their luxurious rest rooms? Next up – a slight surcharge for seatbelt usage and maintenance.

    Prediction: Soon, United’s flacks will issue a press release touting a dramatic drop in customer complaints due to improvements in (fill in the blanks).

  • Jacklyn says:

    One of my favorite customer service quotes is “Well done is better than well said.” -BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

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