How FedEx turned a disaster into a PR win

The video of a deliveryman tossing a package over a gate went viral last month, but the company didn’t recoil—it responded.

Let’s talk about a good response to a customer service, turned social media, crisis.

During the holidays, a video emerged of a FedEx deliveryman throwing a computer monitor over a gate and onto the lawn of the customer’s lawn.

The scary thing is it’s actually in a computer monitor box, not a FedEx box, so he knew it was fragile. He didn’t try to open the gate or ring the bell. He just threw it over the gate. And it broke.

The person who lives in that house must have the same “neighborly” issues we have because he has a security camera on the front gate. And the “delivery” was captured on video.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Clearly this is not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, similar to the Papa John’s incident, it became a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got 5 million views in five days).

What did FedEx do, in return?

It did not ignore the video. It did not ignore the crisis. It did not stick its heads in the sand and pretend the video (that now has 9 million views) doesn’t exist.

Instead, the company took to YouTube and created its own video. Just like Domino’s did in 2008 when a YouTube video of a franchisee’s employees sneezing and spitting in food went viral.

In a blog post accompanying an embedded version of the video, Matthew Thornton, III, senior VP of FedEx Express U.S. Operations, said:

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 goes on to describe what the company did for the customer and how it is using the video in employee training to make sure these kinds of things don’t happen.

Here is the video of the Thornton’s apology.

Customers and employees weighed in on the blog post, most citing positive examples or stories about being grateful for working at FedEx.

The lesson? Always answer with a real apology. Not a “I’m sorry, but…” apology, but a real one. And answer it on the same social network where the crisis is happening.

FedEx did this exactly right. And in the right amount of time. It described the issue, said what had been resolved and how it was using this as a lesson going forward, and apologized.

Every, single one of us makes mistakes. It’s in how we handle them that is remembered.

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. This story first appeared on the blog Spin Sucks.


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