The Colonel has lost control

On February 28, 2018

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is being deep fried over a supply-chain disaster that has caused the closure of more than half its locations across the UK and Ireland. A recent change to DHL for chicken delivery appears to be preventing a finger-licking a good time across the UK.

As expected, media coverage has been anything but kind to KFC. Puns a plenty, KFC has had the foresight to embrace the humorous elements of the situation by cracking jokes about chickens not crossing the road to their restaurants. However, the situation is dire. KFC has responded quickly by:

  • Recognising and thanking their staff;
  • Not playing the blame game and taking responsibility;
  • Providing an apology to their customers;
  • Focusing on their customers’ needs by setting up a dedicated website with a list of restaurants that are open with chicken available; and
  • Providing ongoing information through their website and social media channels.

While the #KFCcrisis is far from over, the company has taken many of the necessary steps to mitigate the impact of the crisis and limit the damage to reputation and brand in crisis management process.

The above being said, nothing ever goes as planned in a crisis. KFC’s delivery company, DHL has not been able to handle the crisis with the same precision and tact as KFC.

Aside from not delivering their chicken, DHL is causing significant damage to the KFC brand. The lack lustre non-apology from DHL is drowning out KFC’s message and proliferating a bad situation.

During a crisis, it is crucial that the customer is considered a top priority. At this time, it appears DHL has deemed their customer to only be KFC. What DHL has failed to realise is that KFC customers are also DHL customers. These are the same people who trust DHL to send care packages and deliver their amazon orders.

As the crisis continues to unfold, photographs have surfaced of DHL warehouses filled with hundreds of kilograms of wasting chicken. DHL’s response has simply been “we regret this has happened”, which has made the company look embarrassingly ill prepared and careless.

The inability of DHL and KFC to collaborate and dilute the crisis, is now having a profound impact on both brands.

While it is likely KFC will be able to recover from this public relations nightmare, DHL may find attracting new business and regaining customer trust to be difficult.

As it stands now, the only way of regaining control of the message is if KFC and DHL work harmoniously to diffuse the situation. They both know what needs to be done to fix this problem. Now they must tell their customers what they are going to do and how they will do it. If this can be accomplished, there is a good chance it will be “winner, winner chicken dinner”. If not, punny headlines will continue to haunt KFC and DHL will become the first international logistics company to be undermined by a game of chicken.