If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a marketer - and you’ve probably seen FedEx’s addition to the ‘super fail’ hall of fame from late last year.

If not, click through to watch the video clip uploaded to YouTube in December by an unhappy customer.

In it, a FedEx ‘guy’ is clearly seen throwing a new computer monitor over the gate of the man who ordered it. He returned home, wondered why it was broken and uploaded a security video of the incident. Then all hell broke loose. 

(8,394,091 views and counting). 

We’ve seen this before. Video is now a central part of exposing bad customer service. Domino’s infamous booger clip led the way in 2008, followed shortly by jetBlue airlines - which kept stranded passengers on the ground, without water, for eight hours.

For many, this FedEx issue seems catastrophic.  ‘8m people viewing one of our staff showing an utter lack of respect of someone’s property? What the hell are we going to do?!’

For starters, don’t panic. Learn from FedEx and take these simple steps to turn the problem into a positive experience.

1. Again, don’t panic. No really. Keep a cool head, don’t attempt to respond to every single negative comment on said video/post/tweet/issue.

2. Similarly, don’t stick your head in the sand.

3. Employ traditional crisis communications strategies; quickly get the people from relevant teams together (marketing, legal perhaps, definitely customer service) and prepare a statement. A unified, consistent, statement. 

Don’t waste time on this though, a simple conference call will do. Save even more time by preparing a process for this ahead of time, decide on who should be on that call, who’s responsible for writing/creating the statement and who has final say on the tone/content.

4. Be authentic. If you’ve messed up, or you’ve been caught out – just say sorry.

5. Decide on the best place to publish this according to the ‘crisis at hand’. In FedEx’s case, a video clip was the best way to respond to a video clip. 

FedEx recorded an apology video with Matthew Thornton, senior VP of FedEx's US operations.

In it he said that: “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.”

He went on to describe what they did for the customer and how they’re using the video in employee training to make sure these kinds of things don’t happen.

6. Seed this response across the web, and offline. Get the apology out there. In FedEx’s case, it directed people to an accompanying blog post. This works because it’s a fixed point at which bloggers, customers, press and more can read the same statement – and leave comments if needs be.

Nobody expects businesses to be perfect. There’s opportunity in every ‘fail’, it just depends how you deal with it.

You can turn a detractor into an advocate with a quick reaction and a genuine apology. 

Or you could let things get even worse by lashing out and getting defensive. It’s your call.

Vikki Chowney

Published 18 January, 2012 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

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Comments (3)



Times like these I guess all you can say is sorry. Even so I'm not likely to be using FedEx in the foreseeable future. Shame I rather liked them...

over 6 years ago


James Marsh, Digital Consultant at IE Design Consultancy Limited

Well prevention is better than cure - but if you must cure it, then I think the 'FedEx' way looks a winner.

over 6 years ago


Benjamin Duvall, COO at Wildfire Pte Ltd

Agree with BLMITW, this isn't the first time consumers are seeing rogue employees tarnish an otherwise ok brand (think Dominos pizza). Sure some companies have better training than others but tjis could happen tp any company with massive ops. The important thing is apologize and fast damage control.

over 6 years ago

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