I’m sure you would have seen the now-famous FedEx Guy Throwing My Computer Monitor viral video by now.

This.

Have you seen FedEx’s response to the video?

Here.

The original video was out on the web on December 19th, while the response, in video and text, uploaded on FedEx’s website was out on December 21st.

Here are a few personal observations from FedEx’s official response.

1. 2 days is mighty fast, for a company of FedEx’s size, but may not be seen as fast-enough in the internet age.

2. And it shows. The response video has Matthew Thornton III, Senior Vice President, US Operations, FedEx Express offering viewers TV news host-style hand movements in a clinical response. That must have taken some time to fine-tune.

3. The actual response is equally clinical – it hits all the zones a PR agency would have asked FedEx to hit. Here’s a list.

  • Empathize with the customers who watched the video – the title is ‘Absolutely, positively unacceptable’. Double the emphasis, double the empathy.
  • Talk on behalf of the customer to make them part of your response – “I know you recognize that this absolutely does NOT represent the professionalism and dedication of…”; “We hope that you, like the customer involved in this incident, will see it as an unfortunate exception…”.
  • Isolate the incident – “It is one person and one package”
  • Reiterate corporate messages around the incident – “we have a very simple motto we try to live by â?? the Purple Promise: â??I will make every FedEx experience outstanding…”
  • Explain what we’ve learnt – “We are also going to build this into our training programs as a constant reminder of the importance of…”

4. What they did really well was the fact that they first solved the issue on ground, with the concerned customer (that could explain the 2 days delay in responding), instead of putting up a placeholder message that they will do something about it.

5. The other part was on respecting privacy – of both the customer and the delivery guy. That’s a wonderful gesture –

“I am pleased to let you know that the matter has been resolved in a very positive way.  We have met with the customer face to face and they already have a  replacement monitor at no cost to them.  They have accepted our apology and say they are fully satisfied with what we’ve done in response to this unacceptable delivery.  They’ve made it clear, though, that they prefer not to be identified in any way, and in this case as always with customers, we fully respect their privacy”

6. However, what is worrying is the detached and templatized way this has been handled. This is starting to seem more like a press response than a social media response. It happened earlier with Domino’s and it is happening with FedEx now.

The need is not to just respond and respond like their lives depend on it, but also to take the opportunity to build the brand. The assumption here seems to be that a straight, corporate’ish video does the job – it could well do the job on television, but on social media, this sort of a response will increasingly be seen as a template.

We have all come some way on social media and merely responding to such situations is not enough anymore. To stand out with a response, it perhaps needs to sound human, not CXO’ish or PR’ish.

6. The other thing is about the reactions that have poured as a result of the original video and for the official FedEx response. If one goes by a quick sentiment check on the response to the original video, it seems like 60% add on to the sentiment of the original video (that FedEx delivery is bad) and 30% still stand by FedEx claiming that this is an exception with the remaining 10% preferring to make generic jokes about the video.

Has FedEx taken that into account? If so, they need not really sound so apologetic and can even induce some self-deprecating humor into the response, while addressing serious issues. That may sound a bit more human compared to a corporate statement that was eventually uploaded by them.


I do appreciate FedEx responding fast, online, to a crisis, but I feel we’re conditioned to such responses by now. If a corporate response needs to stand out and make an impact, it needs to go far beyond merely reiterating known messages and commitments. It may be the person chosen for the job (someone so senior in the ranks – why not someone from the trenches…say, the concerned delivery guy’s boss?) or it could be the specific words used in the response…whichever way you see it, future crisis responses online need to sound a lot more human, and different from other crisis responses to stand out and help the brand.

PS: Close on the heels of the rogue FedEx employee, here comes the roguer (!) UPS employee video!

UPS’ response has been more direct, perhaps because this was a temporary employee and firing him was easier without getting caught in a employee union rigmarole.

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