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

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.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.

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