It’s safe to say that this is not the Colonel’s finest hour.
KFC have run out of chicken.
As one of the firm’s Twitter operators amusingly said: “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.”
It’s great they are putting a light-hearted spin on it for public viewing but it’s probably a very different story behind closed doors.
This has to hurt, especially in the wallet. Just over half of the 900 stores in the UK are shut. Others have a reduced menu or shorter opening hours. And the problem is expected to continue all week.
Talk about an emotive customer experience for those who look forward to their KFC. As opposed to finger lickin’ there’s likely to be some finger flipping going on directed at KFC’s closed doors, when consumers discover that they can’t get their fast food fix.
Apparently, the chicken chain changed their delivery contract last week. Previously, they used specialist food distributor Bidvest.
They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Obviously, we don’t know whether their relationship with Bidvest was broken.
Things are certainly broken now they have switched to DHL though.
It seems DHL reneged on their promise to deliver and are blaming operational issues for the disruption to supply. They are simply failing to deliver enough chicken.
KFC and DHL are apparently working alongside each other, flat out, to clear the delivery backlog.
A spokesperson for DHL said they regret the disruption and are sorry for the “inconvenience and disappointment caused to KFC and their customers”.
What the cluck?! That’s putting it mildly. Apologising for ‘inconvenience and disappointment’ doesn’t cover the bills. Or pay staff wages.
The chain has not released any figures as to how much it is costing them but media reports guess it could be up to £1m a day. Ouch.
Staff are apparently being encouraged to take holiday, although they won’t be forced to if they don’t want to. Those on short-term contracts are to be paid the average hours worked per day over the last 12 weeks, whilst salaried staff will be paid as normal.
Of course, many of the restaurants are franchises, so not everyone will necessarily follow the same policy.
Words of Warning
Turns out that British general trade union, GMB, had tried to warn KFC that switching to DHL was a mistake.
Bidvest specialise in food distribution and had years of experience behind them.
Of course, it was all a money matter and DHL clearly made KFC an offer that was too good to refuse. Yes, the contract may have enabled to DHL to create 300 jobs but Bidvest experienced 255 job losses.
And although KFC may have been tempted by the prospect of a cheaper delivery contract, it has, doubtlessly, ended up costing them far more than they have saved.
KFC clearly made a terrible mistake and, apparently, they realised it. Unfortunately, just a little too late though.
It’s a good lesson for the rest of us though. Cheaper most definitely isn’t always the best option.
Coping in a crisis
Indeed, the whole sorry scenario is a good lesson for the rest of us.
Customer comments have been varied. It seems as though some unhappy fried chicken-less people have called their local police and even parliament members to see if they can do something to rectify the situation.
A little extreme, perhaps, but if you’re after a positive user experience from your favourite fast food, you’re going to be a little hot headed when you are left wanting.
KFC though, as dealing with the situation very professionally.
They are not only finding some humour in the chicken-less situation with their chicken crossing the road tweet but are also keeping dialogue lines open so that consumers are kept informed.
They have even set up a web page where their customers (labelled ‘fans’) can find the nearest restaurant that hasn’t (yet) closed its doors.
Communication with users is vital. You are less likely to lose customers in the long-run if you keep them informed, tell the truth and admit to your mistakes.
Of course, it’s also important to try and deliver and meet customer requirements. Here at The Monachie Project, we can help you discover what those requirements are by carrying out user experience monitoring. Get in touch for more information.
As for KFC, they can only hope that the chicken comes back again and hasn’t crossed the road in favour of McDonalds.