Once upon a time, tales of questionable customer service was the stuff myths were made of: unproven stories, word-of-mouth facts, and a dose of drama.
Now, thanks to those little intrusive cameras on our phones and swift access to social media, we now a have a steady stream receipts unveiling injustices and, of course, harassment. Though this still doesn’t change the fact that there are multiple sides to every story.
On April 21, American Airlines responded swiftly, to a video posted to Facebook of a mother crying on one of their flights. “OMG! AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby. Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her. AA591 from SFO to DFW," said Surain Adyanthaya, a passenger aboard the flight. The 2 minutes and 44-second-long video failed to capture the entire story, but considering the recent complaints and footage against commercial airliners, it was enough to go viral.
Now, Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, released a statement about the incident.
It began, “The goal of our 26,000 members is to make every flight safe and secure for our passengers and crew. All passengers deserve to be treated with respect. We also must assure that our Flight Attendants are treated respectfully on board.”
The statement then went on to remind the public that there are “two stories here related to this incident.” Finally, it ended on the notion that the ordeal is still under investigation and that they “must obtain the full facts.”
Some felt the statement was not enough.
“Weak sauce, "smaller seats. crowded planes, less overhead cabin"....who's fault is that?” said another.
We’re now in an age where cameras are frequently wielded as the last, safest line of defense for onlookers. The downside is there’s no control over how these visuals are absorbed; rarely do we ever see the entire story (though, in Dr. David Dao’s case, perhaps a snippet was all we needed).
In the viral video age, some airliners and other service-based industries, have begun implementing new training for employees. However, it seems the most immediate challenge for large companies is how to handle PR disasters in a way that doesn’t take sides, yet still invokes that “the customer is always right,” spirit.