This painful customer service story would be funny if it wasn’t  all-too-common.  In short, United Airlines managed to really tick off a monk whose whole life is about being calm.  When you read through the details of this story, you can see the classic elements of a customer service experience on the fast track to going wrong—very wrong.

1) Lack of communication: The monk discovered the problem through his own volition; he wasn’t alerted proactively by the company.

2) Lack of ownership of the problem: Along the way, the monk was told he was the one at fault, not the airline.

3) Lack of follow-up: When the monk got close to having the issue resolved by a higher-up manager in the company, the “paperwork” was lost and nobody else in the company could see that it had been resolved.

4)  Lack of an apology: Only after news of this event got to the media did anyone in the company offer the monk an apology.  If someone had just said, “I’m sorry,” early in the process, the monk’s natural tendency toward forgiveness probably would have kicked in sooner and the media wouldnt’ have been brought into it.

5) Lack of training: It would appear the initial problem arose from the company’s addition of a third-party vendor, which hadn’t been adequately trained in the airline’s products or standards of customer service.