In 2008, Dave Carroll and his band were flying United Airlines to Nebraska. While sitting on the tarmac awaiting take off, Dave noticed he had a perfect view of workers loading luggage onto the plane. While the band watched in helpless horror, United employees threw their multi-thousand dollar instruments into the plane with a carelessness that belonged in an elementary school classroom. After over a year of many fruitless phone calls and meetings with United Airlines, Dave finally turned to the internet for help. He and his band, Sons of Maxwell, wrote, recorded, and uploaded the hit song “United Breaks Guitars.” Since the video’s release in 2009, it has received over 15 million views. The video deeply stained United’s image as a company and they quickly hustled to “right their wrong.” The power of Dave over the United Airlines Company is a perfect example of one small moment of poor customer service leading to the downfall of a well-known and well-loved company.

In today’s world of social media and ever-expanding technology, customers have an increasing amount of power over the companies they use. If they encounter a customer service experience that they aren’t satisfied with, all it takes is a simple click to share their traumatic experience with the world. Shep Hyken, customer service expert, recently coined this, “The customer service hostage situation,” where customers hold the power to destroy a company in their hands, or rather, in their devices. Although new technology presents yet another hurdle for the companies of today to jump over, certain businesses are up for the challenge. Customers know exactly what to look for in a customer service experience. They’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the customer service world, and they won’t settle for less than amazing. So what is the key to ensuring customer satisfaction? Don’t just meet, but exceed their every expectation. Listen to their problems and fix them immediately. Doing this, especially in stressful or pressured circumstances will give your customers someone to depend on. They’ll know they can count on your company to get the job done, and get it done right. And they’ll share their satisfaction with their friends and family — to you, additional prospective customers. The challenge of today is how to directly face these powerful customers and give them something to talk about.