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Level 7

Oh FCK, You Just Messed Up Big-Time!

Photo Credit: Adweek Photo Credit: Adweek

Have you ever screwed up so royally that there are simply no words (not the acceptable kind, anyway)? KFC just did, and for all you Rocky fans out there, the company feels like a "Kentucky Fried Idiot" for good reason: This week, a bunch of their U.K. locations kinda sorta ran out of chicken. 


Not ideal, right? And that's exactly what KFC's response was, in its full-page ad. "A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It's not ideal. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who travelled out of their way to find we were closed. And endless thanks to our KFC team members and our franchise partners for working tirelessly to improve the situation. It's been a hell of a week, but we're making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us."


The response has been overwhelmingly positive. No excuses or blaming the supply chain. The situation just sucked and KFC owned it. 


What's amazing to me is how noteworthy this supposedly is. Don't we always find that cutting through the CRP is the best way through a tough situation? You don't have to be a giant global restaurant chain to know this. In fact, I'll wager that the smaller you are, the smarter you have to be about it. There's no one else. It's just you. You mess up (it happens), but you don't/can't make excuses. You apologize and move on. If you can be witty about it so much the better.


Have you ever been in the position of having to say sorry for a spectacularly bad screwup, only to win in the end? What's your strategy for "owning your oops"?

3 Comments 3
Level 5

Oh FCK, You Just Messed Up Big-Time!

Loooove that you brought this up, @EmilyCowan! My response is less about owning my own "oops" (although I've definitely done that before!) and more about heaping praise on some of my favorite brands -- which all moved to the top of my list based on how they dealth with problems. Whether it's a no-questions-asked, lifetime-guarantee return policy for a ripped backpack, a follow-up phone call to make sure an issue was resolved when a blender broke, or a comped dinner for a "meh" meal in a fancy restaurant, I love supporting businesses that go the extra mile to make things right. For me, it's all about customer service  -- and, in a nod to KFC, if there's a way to respond with a little self-deprecating humor, all the better. 

Level 5

Oh FCK, You Just Messed Up Big-Time!

I missed a tax filing deadline once for the non-profit I directed. I fixed the problem, but still I was mortified and had to go to my board of directors with my head hanging to explain and apologize for my oversight. Ultimately, the board was incredibly supportive and understanding and the humility and grace that occurred all around in the moment led to a love-fest. "You're doing awesome!" "No, YOU'RE doing awesome!" That kinda thing. 


Admitting mistakes sucks, but sometimes the vulnerability of an apology can open the door for your team to bond and then you can all resolve to sally on forth in a stronger way. 

Not applicable

Oh FCK, You Just Messed Up Big-Time!

This title was too compelling not to reply @EmilyCowan!!! I believe in coming clean immediately, accepting responsibility, and doing whatever needs to be done to right the ship. We are all human and humans make mistakes, so recover strongly and then carry on!  #thattitle :smileytongue:


P.S. When you are growing a million dollar business, there can be a lot of moving parts, so all the more reason to create a recovery plan! Join our conversation today during Momentum to $1 Million Office Hours and get help on how to recove... 

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