There’s been a bit of buzz about Making Things Right at UNC.

Several people wrote to say thanks for the memories.  Some thought it was a bunch of froof and fluff.  I mean after all – what was the big deal about being left out of the program and not getting a diploma on graduation day?!!!  

Others   passed the story to colleagues as a reminder of the importance of paying attention to mistakes from  the customer’s point of view and then responding in a way that shows  undeniable concern and respect  – leaving the customer absolutely delighted.

It even served to launch a story telling session during  at least one Customer Service meeting, one dinner table  and  one cocktail party.   From what I’ve heard, not all the stories had endings that were made in heaven.  In fact some of them were downright hellaceous – with UNC or its counterpart working hard to make themselves right instead of working hard to make things right with and for the customer.

One such story was told by Donnabeth Leffler  at the aforementioned cocktail party.  In her Savvy Spender column last week, she shared an updated version of her encounter with a business owner turned screamer.  I have a feeling we haven’t heard the final scream.

The hellacious highlight of another story telling session came to me by way of  Jim Heavner.  This one shows  where  working hard to be right can lead.  

It’s the story about Mike Carroll, a musician who flew on United Airlines and checked his guitar as baggage because it was too big to qualify as a carryon.  From inside the airplane, he actually saw his guitar being thrown around by the bag staff.  The guitar ended up with a broken neck which  cost $1700 to repair.  Carroll’s initial claim was denied because he didn’t file within the required 24 hour timeframe.  He filed an appeal and after getting the run-around for nine months,   got word that he would get no money for  guitar repair.  But he did get  statistics about the number of bags lost or damaged each year and was assured that it was an insignificant number.

Remember  those old numbers about how a dissatisfied customer will complain to five to ten of their friends?   How many zeros  does social media add to that?

In this case,  hellaceous treatment sparked Carroll’s creativity which spawned a song and video entitled  “United Breaks Guitars”. On launch day, this video was viewed 150,000 times.  At the time of this writing, that number is up to 10,420,396.    


Meanwhile, Carroll has written and produced two follow up videos on the subject.  And at concerts he introduces himself as “an insignificant statistic”.

United had hell to pay for working to make themselves right instead of working to make things right for their customer.

Slowly but surely the heat must have gotten to them because Carroll finally became significant.  United’s director of customer service called to apologize for the mistake;  and explaining that they hoped to make changes as a result of the incident, asked if they could use his video internally for training purposes.    Better late than never. 

Thanks to social media, every other business can use the video as a training tool too.  Nothing even  has to be written or designed.  Everything needed is right here.  Just share the story about UNC with your team.  Share Donnabeth’s story.  Show the video below..  Share your thoughts.  Ask for theirs.   Invite them to share stories of their own.     Re-visit the topic any chance you get.

The reason for doing this is not to keep a video from being produced about your business; but to help everyone in your business understand the distinction between making themselves or your business right and making things right from the customer’s point of view; and  understanding the importance of choosing the latter.  If that is done consistently,  any video featuring your business will most likely be one you hope will be viewed at least 10 million times.

Perhaps the business Donnabeth was talking about will go through this exercise and we’ll soon hear about a less hellaceous or maybe even a heavenly ending to her story.   If not – perhaps she will write a song, produce a video and let me be a back up dancer.   

If that happens, I feel safe in saying that it will be seen first right here at

What about you?  Got any heavenly or hellaceous stories about making things right?

I’d love to hear them.

Share them below or send them to

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