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

During the holidays, a video of a FedEx delivery man threw 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, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ yesterday, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five million views in five days).

What did FedEx do, in return?

They did NOT ignore the video. They did NOT ignore the crisis. They did NOT stick their heads in the sand and pretend the video (that now has nine million views) doesn’t exist.

They took to YouTube and created their 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 their 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 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.

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. They described the issue, said what had been resolved and how they were 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

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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