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Sorry shouldn’t have to be the hardest word


KFC’s recent “chicken-gate” crisis has opened up the debate once again of when and how brands should apologise.


heir cheeky full-page ad, taken out in many national papers, poked fun at the shortage of chicken in 700 of its stores across the UK.

Thankfully for KFC, they got it spot-on. People saw the funny side and all is normal again with the fast-food chain. There’s bucket-loads of chicken to go around and their customers have laughed it off.

It’s not always like that though. In recent years when brands have been forced to apologise for things going wrong, customers have abandoned them in droves.

Before we go on to offer tips on what to do in a crisis, we have to say we hope you never have to use them.

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"Depending on the type of relationship you have with your client it’s important to personalise the apology as much as possible."


No-one’s perfect

We all make mistakes, it’s human nature. No business goes through every day/month/year without making some sort of error which will affect either someone in the company or customer. There’s power in admitting your failures so once you can admit that you aren’t unflappable then handling whatever crisis comes your way should make the process easier.

Don’t deny it

Owning up to mistakes is the best policy and denying it ever happened will only cause more harm than good, especially when it’s in the public domain. KFC were open and honest and went straight to the heart of the problem with their customers. In essence, they said “we messed up, and we are sorry.” Being transparent as a brand will ensure brand loyalty.

Time it right

When a mistake is made, it’s important to deal with it immediately. Brands which leave time between the error and an apology being issued can suffer a relationship breakdown and loyalty going the same way. Dealing with the problem effectively can help mend any issues with your customers.

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"There’s power in admitting your failures so once you can admit that you aren’t unflappable then handling whatever crisis comes your way should make the process easier."


Plan ahead

There’s two elements to this tip; as part of the apology, tell your customers how you plan to resolve the issue and make sure you commit to it. Whether it’s having your website up and running again or offering them a discount the next time they wish to use one of your services. The next part is to try and make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again by implementing new procedures, new policies and informing your staff about it.

Make it personal

Depending on the type of relationship you have with your client it’s important to personalise the apology as much as possible. This is OK if it’s just a few people who have been affected by the mistake. If, like in many big brand’s cases, it’s thousands of people, owning up to the mistake in the first place will go a long way to building bridges and in KFC’s case, humour usually does the trick.

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