Chick Chick Chick Chicken

Recently due to pingdemic some firms have been having issues with obtaining supplies. Two companies in particular have been in the news so let’s look at each in turn – they both involve chicken.

KFC put out a press release saying that they were experiencing shortages of some products and that there would be items missing from the menu. However, they did not state which items and if it was all stores or just certain regions. This left potential customers confused – if they went into KFC would they be able to purchase what they wanted or not? How badly was the menu affected?

From a marketer’s point of view this hiding the issue from the customer has a negative effect. Why would they go to KFC if they couldn’t be guaranteed to have their first choice from the menu? They may as well go elsewhere (Cottage Chicken if chicken was still wanted or a burger place if it was just fast food that was needed).

On the other hand Nando’s have had to close some restaurants due to them having a shortage of chicken. They informed their client base using humour on Twitter:

The UK supply chain is having a bit of a ‘mare right now. This is having a knock-on effect with some of our restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales. We are doing everything we can to get the PERi-PERi back where it belongs – on your plates!

They haven’t blamed the supply chain, but acknowledged that circumstances are challenging in a colloquial manner: “bit of a ‘mare” a phrase that is used to describe a nightmare journey or day.

By everything they can, they have offered Nando’s staff to their supply chain to fill gaps if they are useful. They are acknowledging that they are disappointing some customers with the phrase “on your plates!” – everything about that tweet is informing the customer but keeping the customer front and centre with the language used and the back of house things that are being tried.

Which company has done the least damage to their customer relationship and experience? Which brand’s customers feel the most valued? With the KFC approach of trying to hide what was missing from the menus then the transparency was lost, but then also the almost arrogance that it won’t matter if the customer’s first choice isn’t available them they will just pick something else from our menu instead of going elsewhere.

KFC also didn’t see that their suppliers were part of their team – they’d forgotten that suppliers are a quick stakeholder in the business. They also didn’t seem to have any plan B in place. This is the second time in the recent past that KFC have had supply issues and they always seem to blame the suppliers instead of working with them for a resolution.

That viewpoint will impact on companies bidding for their business in the future – who wants to work for someone who will throw you under the bus at the first sign of an issue?

With the Nando’s method they are remembered that the suppliers are an important part of their success. They have recognised that the issue is a lack of human resource, so have offered some of their own staff to help out. They haven’t said exactly how they can help – after all it is unlikely that Nando’s have a raft of HGV drivers working as cooks, but if it is on the production line then they could have serving staff or back-office staff helping out.

Nando’s are wanting to ensure that the inconvenience to the customer (and of course to their and their supplier’s bottom lines) are minimised, not that they will please everybody of course.

This is an ongoing culture at Nando’s. The author knows someone who used to work in the Nando’s IT department, and was surprised when he was her waiter one day. He explained that all Nando’s staff, no matter how junior or senior, have to spend time working at a restaurant each year, so that they never forget who the most important person is in the company – the customer; and why they all do what they do – to ensure excellent customer service.

All communications affect the customer experience – after all the brand belongs to everyone in your organisation.

The next time that you are in a shopping mall or wanting chicken and have a choice of KFC or Nando’s which one will you choose?