KFC experienced a bizarre crisis in the UK last week: it ran out of chicken. The issue came after operational problems with a new delivery provider, DHL, which meant that the chicken couldn’t be delivered to the stores. Being a fast-food chain whose whole premise is based on selling fried chicken, KFC was forced to close most of the 870 stores, leaving disgruntled customers to find their chicken elsewhere. Some customers were so outraged they even called the police.
While the highly-publicised crisis could easily have turned into a PR disaster, KFC’s team managed to turn it around and arguably strengthen the brand image. Here are three ways KFC perfectly handled the situation.
1. Talking to customers
KFC updated their customers via their social media channels, writing light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek posts to get their message across. They even set up a new web page for customers to find their nearest open store and an online chatbot dubbed #wheresmychicken for Twitter users to find their nearest store. Instead of hiding away and releasing a 1970s style crisis management message, KFC kept their tone as one with their consumers not separate to them.
2. Apologising when needed
The biggest stroke of genius from the marketing team came with a full-page apology that was published in the Metro and The Sun newspapers. Images of these, of course, quickly went viral on social media.
KFC was praised by fans, competitors and pundits alike for the play on their brand name and how they delivered their apology. Again, their tone was as if KFC was one of the disappointed customers too. Interestingly, they made this apology offline but it reached more people online through people sharing images of the apology across social media.
3. Staying on-brand
Whether it was KFC or their competitors, the crisis gave all of them the opportunity to show their brand’s personality and build relationships with potential customers. Competing fast-food chains were quick to sweep in on KFC’s misfortune and reduce their prices of chicken dishes in a bid to win over new customers.
KFC responded with the only thing they could offer at the time: humour. By doing so, the brand continued to be more personable and less corporate – and people bond with and buy from people; not rigid corporations.
Before social media, companies were unable to show their brand’s personality and build relationships with customers as easily and instantly as they can now. In times of crisis, the best response is to be a part of the digital discussion and not hide away from it. By interacting with customers and engaging in conversation with them, KFC was able to strengthen their brand and perhaps even increase long-term demand.
How do you think KFC handled the crisis? Do you think they could have done more?