I often wonder about companies and what they think.
Do they always think it through? Do they feel pressured by internal or external forces, social or political?
How do customers actually react when a company pushes an idea on them, especially one that the company thinks might be controversial or just interesting?
I admit I’ve seen some corporate considerations up close and gosh you should see corporate anxiety.
But recently United Airlines has foisted an idea on the world that has kept me curious through the dark days of winter.
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I guess Manchester United created a website called NotGroupC out of arrogance in a competitive cloak.
Here, the airline is asking customers to sign up for what it calls Courte-C Call.
Oh, maybe I should mention this, but United customers are Southwest customers.
The whole idea is to have them check in 24 hours before departure so they don’t end up in the much-maligned Group C, which can lead to bad middle seats.
In fact, it’s a bit like booking United’s Basic Economy product.
When NotGroupC launched in November, I thought it was just a gasp. A PR-led campaign designed to inspire a little, well, PR.
However, United insisted to the Journal that 8,000 Southwest customers had already signed up.
It had too many thoughts running through my head.
For example, who are these so-called lonely 8,000 people?
Don’t they have an iPhone or fancy Google Pixel they can set to remind themselves to check in for a Southwest flight?
Is it really easier to sign up for alerts from rival airlines, one imagines, who want to assimilate some of their data in order to be alerted to, say, some good United Airlines offer at the same airport in the future?
Or did these so-called 8,000 really find United’s campaign so interesting that they immediately booked a Southwest flight to test out the new Courte-C Call service?
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Naturally, dark thoughts also entered my mind.
If these so-called 8,000 people are actually United employees, what about their family and friends? No, that can’t be the case. No company is as cynical as that.
Which got me thinking Southwest — which described United’s respite as “a nice courtesy they’re offering” — might have 8,000 customers who need more, um, love from the airline.
How about recording a special song for them—perhaps a version of “Love Is Everywhere” sung by the flight attendants—and sending it to those 8,000 customers 24 hours before the flight?
Of course, that would take away all their thoughts about Manchester United.