United Airlines and Captain Denny Flanagan
(4 pages of text)
This case follows a day in the life of Captain Denny Flanagan. A United Airlines pilot for nearly a quarter of a century and a former naval aviator, Flanagan has created and championed a campaign to radically change the nature of air travel — putting good customer service at the heart of everything the airline does and reaching back, in some way, to the golden age of air travel. Examples of his service include ordering food for passengers of delayed flights and phoning the parents of unaccompanied minors to reassure them of their children’s safety.
The success he has achieved is significant for a company that has historically received very poor customer service ratings. It raises questions about whether such exceptional service is good or bad for the organization. How can Flanagan’s approach be replicated? Is it possible or even desirable to replicate it?
Captain Denny Flanagan will be retiring in June 2016. He has expressed a strong interest in, and desire to support the teaching of the case by attending classes where the case will be discussed, at minimal cost to the institution. More details are available in the teaching note.
A core purpose of this case is to explore the effects of superior service on consumer behaviour, when driven by a single individual at the middle-management level of an organization. The case allows these issues to be explored from the perspectives of marketing, consumer behaviour, operations and general management. After studying the case, students will be able to identify the positive and negative effects of good service on customer outcomes; understand the service recovery paradox; understand the concept of peer-to-peer change in organizations; and understand barriers to change in organizations and how to overcome them.
This case is designed for students at all levels. It covers a broad range of management issues and is therefore suitable for a variety of courses including marketing, consumer behaviour, operations management, general organizational behaviour, change management and service management. Industry practitioners can also leverage this case for in-company training purposes.
Transportation and Warehousing
United States, Large, 2012
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