I fly quite a lot. Mostly on United. So when I started seeing United's new ad campaign in airports, all I could manage was a weak scoff.
"Friendly" is not the main personality trait you encounter with United Airlines. Tense, snappish, officious -- but not friendly. There are exceptions, of course, but a friendly experience is rare.
So are these ads just big fat pants-o-fire lies? Maybe. But more likely, they're expressing how United wants to be perceived.
And that's a gift mistake, as the Customer Experience Matters blog points out at United Airlines Can't Advertise Its Way To Flyer-Friendly.
The facts about how people experience United Airlines tell a different story. United received a "poor" rating in the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. United is in next-to-last place among U.S. airlines, and ranks 216th out of all 235 companies rated. They have not improved at all in the last year in these ratings.
That is, people are having bad experiences at United.
And there's no way they can advertise their way out of it. In fact, the disconnect between their chipper, happy marketing and the more grim reality, will mostly increase people's unhappiness with their experiences.
What does this mean to nonprofits?
Simple: Live up to your promises. Don't make high-flying statement that mismatch with reality. That lacks integrity, and gives donors a reason to leave you.
United should become friendly -- then start advertising itself as friendly. But that's a lot harder to do than what they're doing now.
Don't let this happen to you!