In case you haven’t caught it, a video about a KFC staff socking a customer right to his face made the rounds on the interwebs yesterday.
To KFC’s credit, I believe they responded as quickly as they could and owned up to the incident telling everyone that they would investigate the issue as quickly as they could.
PR practices and crisis management aside, the thing that struck me about this entire incident is that this is the way it’s going to be for us communications professionals from now on.
Now that everyone and their parents are armed with a camera, a Twitter account, and in (many) cases, an internet connection, they are going to be recording things they see anywhere and everywhere. Stuff like this will simply become the norm.
Now think about the poor KFC communications team. There’s no way they could have expected this crisis to sneak up behind them and hit them on the head. No way. It just happened because a KFC employee decided to hit a customer while someone else was filming.
On the click of a button (okay, maybe a couple) the video was then uploaded and shared. More importantly, shared on KFC Malaysia’s own Facebook fanpage where you’d expect most of the people who’d care about anything KFC would be. This resulted in a chain-reaction and mass-sharing ensued, with KFC Malaysia right in the thick of it.
All because of the kind of technology we have today.
I think there’s some reflection worth doing here for us in the communications business. Most poignantly, our jobs don’t exist in a vacuum. This was true then, it’s tru-er now. Gone are the days when your communications programme was a promotions programme, where you pushed your press releases with impunity. Today, the whole brand experience is the communications, which means one low-level employee stuck in an outlet no one ever visits can cause a storm critical proportions.
How do we react to this? Well, if bad customer service is going to create more negative stories that are louder than your positive ones, shouldn’t you be spending more time ensuring customers get only the very best experience? From a traditional Corporate Communications perspective, this means you can’t just say “that isn’t my job” and shuffle along. It means you need to work more closely with whoever’s job customer service is, or find some way to.
Take KFC’s example. The immediate response is to launch an investigation and be transparent about the process, which they’ve done. But they say prevention is better than cure, and the real solution will be to ensure no staff ever does this again. So perhaps it’s time to take a look at the culture of the company and see if more work can be done to make KFC workers proud to work at KFC.
One thing’s clear – your brand, and how people perceive it, isn’t going to be