business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

This lead paragraph from story says it all…

"When you’re an industry giant and you’re confronted with a potential social media crapstorm thanks to the ignorance of some low-level mouth breather employee, you have a choice. You can distance yourself as quickly as possible from the whole ugly situation with a stilted and terse statement that what happened in no way reflects your corporate policy and you’re a proud supporter and blah blah blah. Or you can take the incident as chance to be a little bit awesome. This week, KFC chose the latter."

The "crapstorm," as Salon so elegantly put it, had to do with a three-year-old girl who last April was mauled by three pit bulls, suffered enormous facial damage, including a broken jaw and nose, the loss of her right eye and paralysis of the entire right side of her face. The family has been struggling to pay the medical bills and then, late last week, insult was added to injury. The girl's grandmother took her to the doctor and then to KFC, where she hoped the girl would be able to eat the mashed potatoes. Unbelievably, the grandmother was asked by management to take the child out of the restaurant because the condition of her face was upsetting other customers.

The grandmother took to Facebook to complain about the treatment, promising never to set foot in a KFC ever again. Her complaints went viral, quickly getting the attention of KFC corporate management, which investigated the incident and quickly apologized and sent the family a $30,000 check to put toward medical expenses.

Salon writes:

"The company, in its social media response and in its stepping up and pledging the money, has demonstrated that it understands that a brand can be made or broken by its customer perceptions of it. KFC cannily recognized that an apology is nice, but when you are a big company and you’re talking about a family that’s hurting emotionally and financially, that specifically chose your establishment as a treat after a child’s doctor appointment, you have a chance there to go big. Others can be cynical about that, but if you want to be cynical about a little girl who’s been through hell getting help with her medical expenses, you can be cynical on your own … And though a check and an apology can’t eradicate the trauma of what happened to that girl in April or one person’s recent cruelty, it can inspire others to acts of kindness. It can give a family a happier outcome to a story that started out horribly."
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