While that story is deeply disturbing, Peter Shankman makes a good point. Your employees have to care to provide decent (or even minimally acceptable) customer service:
Customer service has to start at caring. No matter what employee of the company is approached first, that employee has to be trained to care. Because if the first person doesn’t care, the company doesn’t care.
How do you train someone to care? How do you instill empathy on the assembly line? I don’t think you can. It has to be central in the company culture and you have to beware of it in the hiring process. United and the other airlines will never have it.