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A Broken Guitar, Unhappy Musician, Indifferent Airline and Viral Video. The Imperfect Customer Service Storm.

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

broken guitarSometimes we think that Stewart Gandolf has way too much fun over at his blog, Gandolf’s Marketing Magic. I submit as evidence, and for your consideration, Stewart’s recent post that begins with the story about how a customer complaint became a YouTube music-and-video saga (in three parts) titled United Breaks Guitars.

As a quick disclosure, it’s interesting—but generally unimportant—to know that Stewart is a musician and he plays the guitar. Although he may have a kindred affinity with the subject matter, there really is an important healthcare marketing and public relations message in his post titled Shrugging Off Unhappy Customers Can Be Hazardous – Just Ask United Airlines.

If you are not one of the 10,209,220 people (as of the time this is being written) who have watched the clever musical-video revenge, it’s worth a few minutes to set the stage. And while healthcare providers, hospitals and private practices struggle with improving customer service and patient satisfaction, Stewart’s blog does a nice job of bringing home a valuable lesson about corporate indifference. (And what to do instead.)

We’d like to think that individuals in the ranks of healthcare professions—on the provider side and on the marketing, communications, PR side—would avoid a public relations mess like the United Breaks Guitars story. In retrospect, the important part of the story isn’t so much about the initial “problem” as it is about what happened, or didn’t happen, after that.

We’re pleased to recommend Stewart’s post, Shrugging Off Unhappy Customers Can Be Hazardous – Just Ask United Airlines. It’s an insightful message about a guitar, a musician, an airline, a viral video…and an object lesson for all of us who need to deliver the perfect patient experience.

By the way, with over 10-million views, the YouTube video also scored nearly 49,000 “likes” and 959 “dislikes.” It’s not a scientific survey, but the numbers suggest that the “indifference” approach doesn’t work too well. Let us know what you think.

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