Saturday, July 11, 2009

"United Breaks Guitars" Prompts Fast, Customer-Friendly Response From Taylor

Taylor Guitars has done in 4 days what United Airlines could not accomplish in 15 months.

Dave Carroll is a Canadian musician. In March 2008, while on a trip to Nebraska for a series of concert dates, United Airlines baggage handlers severely damaged his Taylor guitar. For 9 months, he attempted to get United to acknowledge their negligence and repair Carroll's guitar. In frustration, Carroll sent a final e-mail to United and promised that he
would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and offer them for free download online, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.
On July 6, Carroll posted the first video on YouTube. As of this post, the video has been viewed an astonishing 2 million times and Carroll has appeared on several national television programs. United reacted by making Carroll an offer he could refuse.

The internet is chock full of stories about United's many failures--both in substance and in their communications. But what truly impressed me was the response from Taylor Guitars, who saw in the Carroll case a great opportunity to educate their customers, demonstrate good will, and enhance their reputation (as another major corporation was damaging their own). Within 4 days of Carroll's video being posted on YouTube, Taylor Guitars' Bob Taylor explained how to protect you guitar--while promoting the durability of their guitar cases:

Producing this video likely cost Taylor very little, but the ROI--in good will and future business--should be high.