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No Thanks Necessary

Customer Care Disability Specialist Tracy Self-King finds her passion in the chances she gets to exemplify one of United’s service principles: be the solution

Author Ryan Hood


Ever the selfless individual, Tracy Self-King just isn’t big on being thanked for her work.

Exhibit A: When a customer recently contacted United after experiencing problems related to wheelchair access for her husband, Self-King began a written response, but then she made the interaction more personal by calling the customer at home so they could speak directly.

“Sometimes we’ll pick up the phone so customers can hear an apology in our voices,” Self-King says. “I like to offer that personal touch.”

As the customer wrote, “From the moment our conversation began, Tracy listened attentively and responded compassionately to our situation. Tracy took time to clarify everything that occurred prior to, during and after our flight experiences. She carefully outlined the steps she would follow, including an investigation and a letter of explanation sent to us as soon as possible. Most importantly, she recognized our feelings.”

The customer was so impressed with Self-King that she—much to Self-King’s chagrin—insisted on speaking to her supervisor and even followed up with a letter citing Self-King’s professionalism, compassion and diligence.

Self-King has been with United for 22 years and has worked as a corporate customer disability specialist for the last three. According to her, it’s “in her nature” to lend others a hand. “Wherever I am, I’m one to step in and help,” she says. This makes Self-King’s work in the customer service industry a natural fit, as it blends her personal passion with her professional career. 

“Years ago somebody asked me what I did wrong to get a job like this,” she says. “I told them this is what I want to do, because I get to help people and get paid for it.”

Providing great customer service is a cornerstone of United’s mission as a company. It’s how the company leaves a lasting impression and builds toward the “flyer-friendly” promise it has made to customers. United has four foundational service principles—be predictable, be the solution, be gracious and be the brand—that guide everything the company does. These are the basics of delivering a friendly experience for customers and co-workers.

Self-King’s enthusiasm and genuine interest in delivering flyer-friendly service to every customer she assists is apparent on a daily basis, according to her supervisor, Customer Care Assistant Manager Sandy Franzen.

“Tracy is a kind and caring individual who works to resolve customers’ concerns as if they were her own family members’,” Franzen says. “She not only is appreciated by our customers, but the other members of the team appreciate and respect her, too. Tracy is known for working long hours until she resolves concerns to the satisfaction of the customer.”

One of the things that helps Self-King provide such remarkable service is her productive approach to complaints.

“I see complaints as opportunities,” she says. “They give us an idea of how we can fix things for the next person. If customers don’t complain, how will we know to fix something that’s wrong? We’re all invested in making the company the greatest it can be, and we can’t do that if we don’t view problems and complaints as opportunities for improvement.”

So, if you’re ever assisted by Self-King, just remember two things: Complaints are welcome, and thank yous are discouraged.

“You don’t have to thank me,” she says. “I’m grateful to be part of such a great team, and this is the job I’m paid to do. I get my satisfaction from that. The fact that these customers continue to fly with United is a big enough thank you.”


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