Most of you have probably seen the video in this link but I think it is a good example of how customers are using the internet to fight back against poor customer service. Customers are using specifically social media to disseminate information about their experience, as we have seen clearly in the hospitality industry through Tripadvisor.com.
One thing this article doesn’t talk about is the fact that customers want to interact with companies online. I recently read a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger which discussed how the internet has radically changed the way consumers receive and provide information about a company (basically all you need to read of the book is this sections as it rambles quite a bit: http://www.cluetrain.com/book/95-theses.html.) Consumers want to interact online with real humans that aren’t spouting copy but are speaking in a human voice. As customers are discussing companies through online social media, companies have to be part of those discussions in that arena if they want any input.
If you are interested in some follow up information on how the United song was eventually resolved, here is a little piece on NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106486141