We Apologize For Any Inconvenience …

From the “tone-deaf member/customer service” files:

An automated email from United Airlines asking about my flight from Albany to Chicago. Since United repeatedly delayed and then ultimately cancelled my connecting flight out of Chicago, resulting in a 15-hour unplanned layover, and their email to me makes no mention of the cancelled flight, their note just reminds me of how oblivious they seem to the considerable inconvenience I experienced on my way home.

What might they have done instead?

They obviously have my email address and know who I am, they know I was on a flight that they delayed multiple times before canceling, and they surely can figure out that the flight I eventually caught was a long time after my flight was supposed to leave. They could have sent an email offering a small discount on my next United flight. They could have comped me the frequent flier miles even though I ended up on another airline (or just given me some extra miles). Even a simple apology would have been better (“We know what a hassle it is when your travel plans are disrupted, and we apologize for the inconvenience it caused.”). If they really wanted feedback on that first leg, they could have at least bundled the two messages, apologizing and then making the ask.

Your nonprofit is going to do things once in a while that annoy and frustrate your supporters. Owning the error, and going out of your way to making your supporters feel valued even when those inevitable mistakes happen, can go a long way toward sustaining their loyalty.

(Photo by Flickr user #96.)

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