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Archive for August, 2009

There are lots of national chains that people think of to go first when they need something. Need a coffee, and Starbucks or Dunkin might come to the top of your mind. How about a quick and cheap lunch? You might think of McDonalds or Subway first. And what if you need a new hard drive? You might run to Best Buy. While these brands are certainly popular and have a place in our society, there’s a reason local businesses are thriving.

There can certainly be good reasons to go to a chain. For one, you know that wherever you are, they will probably be there. And there is usually consistency in their offerings. If you need a widget, no matter where you are, Wal Mart will probably have it. It’s likely to even be in the same part of the store as your local Wal Mart, and if price is your utmost concern, you know it’s the place to go.

At one point, the prevailing opinion was that the chains like Wal Mart would force local stores out of business. And while I’m sure there has been some effect, local businesses still thrive, because they offer things that no national chain can.

Take a local coffee shop here in Cincinnati, The Coffee Emporium. (more…)

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UnitedYou may remember earlier this summer, I wrote a blog post about United Airlines, and their handling of a situation involving damaged luggage. The post focused on the initial and subsequent responses by the airline, and how their response moved in the right direction after the passenger posted a YouTube video.

The story goes like this: musician Dave Carroll was going on tour with his band, Sons of Maxwell. As he settled onto his connecting United flight, he watched as baggage handlers threw luggage on the tarmac, including his customized Taylor guitar, which was damaged. United didn’t initially provide compensation (Carroll waited too long to report the issue), and so he pledged to write a series of three songs and videos about the affair.

The first one, “United Breaks Guitars,” now has over 5 million hits on YouTube. A few days after posting the video, the airline called him to offer compensation. But Carroll was no longer interested, asking the airline instead to donate it to charity. And that’s what they did – giving $3000 on his behalf to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Now that the issue seems to be resolved, he produced video number two. (more…)

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I like to think that we all, whether an individual or a corporation, learn from our mistakes. With companies, most consumers understand that mistakes happen. And providing the mistake isn’t too extreme, it is the way that it’s handled that is important. A proper apology and appropriate actions, including those to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again, goes a long way. This reaction can be the difference between a customer remaining loyal or abandoning the brand for a competitor.

In the airline industry, apparently these lessons remain unlearned. And the case of Continental Express flight 2816, operated by ExpressJet Airlines, proves it. Last Friday night, what was supposed to be a routine two and a half hour flight from Houston to Minneapolis turned into a 13 and a half hour ordeal.

(more…)

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