Customer service in the future will be a company wide mentality and not a department – Interview with Dave Carroll of United Breaks Guitars


Share on LinkedIn

customer services shoot

Following on from my recent interview, True customer engagement is not based on click throughs or contests – Interview with Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction, today I am pleased to present to you an interview I recently did with Dave Carroll, a singer songwriter and the maker of the famous United Breaks Guitars video on Youtube. Whilst still a singer songwriter, he is now also an entrepreneur, speaker and an author of a new book: United Breaks Guitars – The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.

Note: Hat tip to Guy Stephens (@guy1067) for the interview suggestion and for introducing me to Dave.

This interview makes up number thirty-two in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.

Before we get into the interview, if you haven’t seen it then you should take a few minutes to watch the video: United Breaks Guitars. It’s a good tune too :)

Second Note: Apologies for a little background noise on the podcast…..torrential rain whilst I was recording the interview with Dave. It doesn’t, however, comprise the quality of the recording.

Below are highlights from our interview:

  • Dave is a singer songwriter and an independent Canadian musician and has been for over 20 years.
  • He wrote a trilogy of songs and Youtube music videos about his bad customer service experience with United Airlines in 2008 whilst on his way to week long tour of Nebraska with a band that he is a member of: The Sons of Maxwell. The first video (above) was released and posted on Youtube on July 6th 2009.
  • United Airlines was responsible for breaking his Taylor 710 guitar.
  • His goal was to get 1 million hits with all three videos combined in one year.
  • The first video cost only $150 to make and on release went viral and within four days had reached 1 million views. The video currently has just under 13 million views.
  • Largely attributed to the impact of this video, United Airlines stock fell 10% and it shed $180m in value.
  • The videos are not aggressive and not meant as an attack on United but are meant to chronicle what happened and tell Dave’s story. The videos were not meant as a negation tactic but was just Dave’s way of telling his story after United’s policy dictated that because he had not field a claim in the right office within 24 hours that he would get nothing for United breaking his guitar.
  • A big point that emerges from Dave’s story is how impersonal policy and rules can get in the way of good customer service, being more personal, being more human and doing the right thing.
  • When something goes wrong, good customer service can be as simple as a sincere and authentic apology and a commitment to fix what went wrong.
  • One of the big lessons that has come out of the whole experience for Dave is the realisation that we are all connected in the world at some level. Social media only allows us to experience this connection that already exists.
  • He doesn’t see a division between the customer and the company but sees it as one holistic piece where companies of the future will view customers as part of their brand and not separate too it.
  • Also, he sees that customer service will no longer be a silo or a department but will be a mentality that pervades everyone and everything in the company.
  • If you want to get started in social media, particularly when it comes to customer service, Dave has two pieces of advice. One, change your perspective from one where you think about defending against your customers to one where you are embracing the changes around us and are willing to engage in a conversation with your customers and learn from others; and Two, get involved….just get stuck in and use the social media platforms as it’s the best way to learn.
  • Dave recently co-founded, a social media platform which provides a neutral, fair and level playing field where consumers and companies can come together to work out their differences and arrive at successful resolutions to common consumer complaints.
  • He’s also got a new album out called: Raincoat in Vegas ;)

United Breaks Guitar Book

About Dave (taken from his LinkedIn profile)

Dave Carroll United Breaks Guitars

Dave Carroll is an award winning singer-songwriter, social media innovator, author, speaker and consumer advocate from Halifax, Canada.

With twenty years experience in the music business, when faced with a difficult customer service issue with United Airlines in 2009, Dave used his ability as a master storyteller to share his issue with the world. The resulting YouTube music video called “United Breaks Guitars” became an instant viral hit and today over 150 million people have been introduced to his story.

With significant impacts in the areas of customer service, social media, branding and self-empowerment Dave’s career as an entertainer and songwriter has expanded. He is now a highly sought after professional speaker, a published author and he is increasingly being commissioned for songs for other people and organizations. He is also co-founder of, an on-line customer complaints resolution platform that brings consumers and businesses together in a mutually beneficial way, resulting in improved service for consumers and improved results for companies.

You can check out Dave’s website here, connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter here and here and grab a copy of his book here and his new album on iTunes here. (You can also get his album direct from his website too).

Thanks to Phil Dowsing Creative for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here