FedEx. Reputation management in the Transparency Age. How to react and restore this present colossal reputation crisis? Impossible mission. The reputation damage for FedEx will be huge and durable. Of course, it will be very interesting to follow the communication crisis pattern followed by FedEx. But our judgement of this reputation crisis is that FedEx will pay the hard price.
The story: Youtube user goobie55 bought a computer monitor. It was delivered by FedEx. Goobie55 had a video camera in the house entrance. It recorded how FedEx worker ‘delivered’ the very fragile box: throwing it from the street. As goobie55 points out in his/her Youtube video “The sad part is that I was home at the time with the front door wide open. All he would have had to do was ring the bell on the gate. Now I have to return my monitor since it is broken”.
This 21′ video isthe epitome of awful negative advertising: this is high quality recording, it is very short, it shows constantly the FedEx logo, the video captions that we show below show also that the fragile computer content of the box was evident, it finally clearly shows that the FedEx worker does not attempt to ring the bell of the property.
This is a 21 second duration video. It was upload 19 December 2011. Two days after, it counts with 1,7 millions views. For sure, the number of views will explode in the incoming days, at it has become a viral video. Liking rate of this video is 95.4. Viewers like this video, and of course not because they appreciate this FedEx quality express deliver. There are already some 9.000 outraged comments.
This is Transparency Age. Social media magnifies little but disgusting mistakes. Waste of time if companies try to deny or justify them. Impossible to fight against the viral dissemination of this new source of brand reputation. Companies will have to decide if they are positive and thankful to these opportunies offered by the new channels providing information about customers feelings and complaints, and react introducing improved product and service standards. Really, this video is telling to FedEx management that something can be improved in terms of service delivering. This was a 20 seconds delivery, and we don’t know if FedEx job protocol rewards more quantity delivered than quality. If they understand this, Fedex cand improve long term quality service and customer satisfaction.
As for possible responses in this communication crisis, we feel, in line with our basic analysis, that only a message asking for pardon to all costumers plus a determination to improve delivery standards, training and control will be considered by the video viewers.
We showed in other post in this blog how KFC Malaysia reacted to a food tampering video scandal by also using social media (Youtube and Facebook) for explaining Kentucky Fried Chicken position and measures. Our assessment in that case was that even if unintended, KFC management was fuelling the viral diffusion of the video and, thus, we doubted about the communication strategy, praised by other observers. See here the KFC food tampering blog post.
In this FedEx crisis we are persuaded that the social media impact of this video will be massive. The scenario is so terrible for the corporate brand and reputation team at FedEx, that there is almost nothing to lose in this crisis. They would nevertheless still worsen the present nightmare situation if the follow the denial approach or the ‘this is just a regrettable isolate case’.
Video ’FedEx Guy Throwing My Computer Monitor’
Update: 22 December 2011
As expected, number of Youtube views is currently exploding. We count now 4,1 million views, just 3 days after its upload. As for comparision, views of the KFC Food Tampering video in Malaysia has received som 400.000 visits in six months.
We have an official reaction from FedEx. Here it is:
FedEx Response to Customer Video
December 21, 2011
FedEx team members work very hard every day all around the world delivering millions of items on time and in perfect condition. The one delivery shown on the video is completely at odds with our training and policies. We have apologized to the customer and secured a replacement delivery. We’re pleased to have resolved the situation and the customer is satisfied.
As a result of this absolutely, positively unacceptable delivery, we are redoubling our efforts to keep things like this from happening in the future. In this specific case, we are following our established disciplinary process, which is intended to protect the privacy of team members. We can say that the employee is not interacting with customers during this process. Additionally, we look at this as a great learning opportunity. We have already used the video internally to remind all of our team members that every single package is the most important one.
We take pride in having a low damage claims rate and are very upset by this incident, which is so at odds with our Purple Promise to make every FedEx experience outstanding.
FedEx website http://www.fedex.com/us/update4.html
And another official reaction from Matthew Thornton, FedEx Senior Vice President of US Operations
Along with many of you, we’ve seen the video showing one of our couriers carelessly and improperly delivering a package the other day. As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience. This goes directly against everything we have always taught our people and expect of them. It was just very disappointing.
However, from the customer’s perspective, I am pleased to let you know that the matter has been resolved in a very positive way. We have met with the customer face to face and they already have a replacement monitor at no cost to them. They have accepted our apology and say they are fully satisfied with what we’ve done in response to this unacceptable delivery. They’ve made it clear, though, that they prefer not to be identified in any way, and in this case as always with customers, we fully respect their privacy.
I know you recognize that this absolutely does NOT represent the professionalism and dedication of the 290,000 FedEx team members worldwide. It is one person and one package. While many people are publicly speculating about what will happen to the employee, FedEx takes care to protect team members’ privacy as well as our customers’ privacy. We do take this matter extremely seriously, and have initiated action in accord with our disciplinary policy, while respecting privacy concerns. Without going into detail, I can assure you that this courier is not delivering customer packages while we are going through this process.
This matter is an unfortunate exception to the outstanding service FedEx team members deliver every single day. Our customers know and value that service. We have been doing this almost 40 years, and if we weren’t doing it right, we wouldn’t have gained the widespread respect we have enjoyed. As a matter of fact, we have a very simple motto we try to live by – the Purple Promise: “I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.”
While this delivery fell way short of those high standards, we are already using it as a learning opportunity. We’ve shared this video internally to remind everyone that every single package is important to you, our customers, and that actions like this are totally unacceptable. We are also going to build this into our training programs as a constant reminder of the importance of earning — and keeping — your trust with every single delivery. We hope that you, like the customer involved in this incident, will see it as an unfortunate exception that proves the rule that our company cares for its customers.
Official FedEx Blog http://blog.fedex.designcdt.com/absolutely-positively-unacceptable
This statement is also presented as Youtube video. Now it counts with 4.000 visits.
FedEx Response to Customer Video