By the time negative media coverage highlights your angry customers, they’ve probably been unhappy for a while. Customer complaint stories explode, then expand, because when media look for more evidence, they find plenty of frustrated people.
KFC was hit this month by successive stories about an unpleasant taste change to its potato and gravy, food shortages, and tension between customers and staff.
A key theme of complaints in private and over social media leading up to these stories, was frustration at the company’s blank response. It wasn’t surprising to see KFC’s reaction to the media coverage was silence or misdirection.
This indicates a hope that the stories would go away. They inevitably do because media lose interest, and it’s just takeaways, not Watergate – but the dissatisfaction doesn’t.
Research shows that 96% of customers will never complain. The media coverage will have told these customers they weren’t alone and that the company doesn’t want to talk. That reality undermines marketing, which will prompt the silent customers to tell, on average, 15 other people about their experience. Up to 91% of customers will go to competitors without ever telling you why.
Companies should respond fulsomely to negative media coverage. It’s an opportunity to stop the rot by dealing with an issue they’ve probably failed to address for too long.