You may have seen the shocking YouTube video of a FedEx delivery man throwing a computer monitor over a customer’s gate, uploaded in December.
Within 24 hours, it had received 200,000 views. The story then featured in the Daily Mail and the number of views soared to 4.5 million. Today, the total stands at over 8 million and it has been ‘liked’ 17,000 times.
So how did FedEx deal with the situation?
In the first statement, FedEx condemned the employee’s actions, stating that executives were ‘shocked’. They said the handling of the package was ‘unacceptable’ and vowed to track down the employee responsible.
This is a good initial response. FedEx probably learnt about the incident at the same time as the press so they wouldn’t have had time to investigate. FedEx was also right not to protect the employee; instead they distanced the company’s brand from the individual’s actions.
FedEx’s next move was smart. They created a YouTube video in response – within 48 hours. The speed of their response was critical, helping curb speculation about the incident.
In the video Matthew Thornton, Senior VP at FedEx, said they had met with and apologized to the customer. The company deserves kudos for this; in difficult situations, companies typically communicate with customers via telephone or in writing. Meeting face-to-face is personal and proves FedEx cares about its customers.
Thornton also answered the question everyone asked: what happened to the employee? He explained ‘they’re working within their disciplinary procedures and the employee is not working with customers’. This is a mediocre response. Customers and journalists alike wanted reassurance that the guilty party had been fired. I suspect HR procedures prevented FedEx from providing a stronger response.
Thornton then reminded viewers that the company’s motto is to ‘make every FedEx experience outstanding’. This is good; he uses a difficult situation to reinforce the company’s key messages and its commitment to customers.
Despite this, the footage still damaged the company’s reputation – and consequently it was listed by Forbes as the ‘most brand-damaging viral video of 2011’.
FedEx’s YouTube video also received less than half a million views, a sixteenth of the original video. Clearly bad news travels faster than good.
This incident won’t go away for FedEx and any reoccurring issues will be closely watched by the public eye. However, FedEx can be commended for responding quickly, using YouTube as the channel to respond and meeting the customer face-to-face.
What are your thoughts on FedEx’s response?