The Cost of Business vs. the Cost TO Your Business – Take 2

Isn’t it funny how once you get and idea or object in your head, you start to see examples of the object or idea everywhere?

Right after posting my latest blog post, I went over to check out Paul Greenberg’s ZDnet blog, which is always rife with something I can take away and mesh into my overall social media thought process (that’s a nice way of saying steal paul’s great ideas).

Paul wrote this week about United Airline’s mulling over eliminating economy plus seats.  This in my mind is a great example of what I was hinting at with Salesforce.com’s decision to jack up pricing for EU customers. (This story seems to be getting more and more popular, which suits me just fine.)

United is in a similar spot – looking to drive profitability and defray its cost of business. Salesforce.com is in the same spot. None of these actions are done with nefarious intention – they just are what they are.

Now, if United and Salesforce truly listen to their customers, they would probably both make moves that are in line with the real expectations of the customer. For United, they are in danger of losing a lot of fliers that take for granted to economy plus upgrade and the downgraded experience of their flights will cause some deflection. United MUST see that adding 6-8 seats per flight is not worth the risk of losing frequent fliers, or the negative brand attention (as if it hasn’t had enough of that in the past few years).

The great thing about social media is its immediacy. As Paul notes in his blog, United can quickly gauge the potential result of this move without doing all that much – simply reaching out and engaging. The low risk and cost associated with engaging via social channels before making sweeping changes is a huge benefit.

If United ignores this – it will say a lot about how some brands are simply not “getting it” in terms of today’s business atmosphere.