August 5th, 2010
I’ve been touring in Maine all week and have not been as connected to the news as I normally am. So by the time I heard about Tanner, the boy who’s $15,000 wheelchair was broken by Air Canada, the airline had already taken measures to remedy the situation. Considering the nature of Tanner’s illness and his dependence on this unique chair, Air Canada did the only thing they could do: apologize, repair it immediately and make a meaningful gesture as compensation for the trouble. As I understand it Tanner would like to visit Disneyland and the airline will also make that happen.
If I were Air Canada I would look carefully into what happened to prevent this from reoccurring; but I must say the airline’s response, albeit likely fueled by the groundswell of public support for Tanner, should be commended. Air Canada found a 24 hour repair shop, had the wheelchair fixed and offered an apology that took responsibility for the damage and then they looked beyond the event to offer to fulfill one of Tanner’s dreams (to go to Disneyland). Their recovery from this incident was reflective of the outstanding nature of the poor customer service Tanner received; so AC was right in dispensing with regular company protocol for these matters.
When I speak at customer service and social media events and conferences I mention that the companies of tomorrow, who “get” social media today, understand that customer service issues are bound to occur but that they also need to have a recovery plan in place to deal with those. It’s nice to see that Air Canada is thinking about their future with this incident, by acknowledging that every single customer has a voice and deserves to be treated with respect. Congratulations to Tanner and his family for making themselves heard and empowering the rest of us in the process.