KFC's Service Might Be Bad in the Restaurants, But It Knows How to Fill Potholes

I blogged yesterday about my theories as to why KFC seems to have bad customer service, even though the chain gives so much lip-service to customers.

If you can’t provide good restaurant service, how about doing public service instead?

As part of a new marketing campaign, KFC has offered to fill potholes in city streets in return for being allowed to stencil “Re-freshed by KFC” on the patched pavement in a “chalky stencil likely to fade away in the next downpour.” So far the program is only operating in Louisville, but KFC plans on taking the program to four more cities (hat tip to Jessie Sackett).

Although I admire the creativity behind this marketing campaign, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t see any reason why KFC should be particularly good at filling potholes, and I don’t really see how potholes tie back to chicken. One virtue of the pothole campaign is that, at least in principle, it should be possible to measure (probably imprecisely) whether or not it works.

KFC filling potholes reminds me a little bit of one of the gang leaders Sudhir Venkatesh used to hang out with. This gang leader spent a lot of time and effort cultivating community support. Gang members would pick up garbage in the neighborhood, and the gang leader would buy sneakers for the young kids in the area. Like the executives at KFC, the gang leader wanted community members to view his organization in a positive light. The support of the citizens was a lot more important to the gang, however, than it is to KFC. So my guess is that the return on investment from the gang’s community service was a lot higher than KFC’s.

Alas, the gang leader’s social service push did not have a happy ending. The higher-ups in the gang sent some thugs to beat the gang leader up when they heard he had the gang’s foot soldiers doing neighborhood clean-up. The gang was all about making money, not serving the neighborhood, they told him. From that point on, he was to focus exclusively on selling drugs. His attempts to convince them that public service was contributing to long-term profitability fell on deaf ears.

Like the folks who run big corporations and obsess over hitting the quarterly earnings targets, the top members of the gang were not worried about long-term profits; after all, there was a good chance they weren’t going to be around long enough to reap the rewards.


Kim Siever

“I don't see any reason why KFC should be particularly good at filling potholes”

Why do they need to be? They just need to be able to afford to pay someone who is particularly good at it.

kellycms

Though KFC might not have any connection to filling potholes, the overall idea is a good one. A company like KFC wants to maximize profit. In a world with so many other fast food alternatives, it is hard to stand out. KFC will not only get its name out more, but if people notice that KFC is doing a public good, they might be inclined to purchase their food over that of McDonalds. As #21 mentioned, they don't have to be good at filling potholes, they just have to hire someone that is. I believe this idea could be beneficial if played right. At the end, if KFC doesn't achieve its personal goal, at least it helped out the community in a way.

HildaCMS

It is apparent that KFC wants to better its reputation and is doing so by filling potholes. I don't see the clear connection either of how this related back to the fast food chain but it gets their name on the street. However, the fact that someone sees "Re-freshed by KFC" written on top of a fixed pothole doesn't really turn on a persons' appetite for chicken. If it wanted to do service, I would think that a better alternative would be to do something related with the company itself because what they are currently doing is too blurry, in the sense that they have no way of measuring or even knowing if this had an impact.

misterb

I agree - the leaders of large corporations have the morals of gangsters - that would explain a lot about why we are in the mess we're in.

sarahCMS

It is in humans nature to maximize their profit, some people take this theory to the extreme. Making such decisions which no matter what they must achieve this "sucess". Currently there is much competition, perhaps one of the factors why companies such as KFC, make these actions. Since I am no one to judge KFC, i simple just want to say that some people pretend to enjoy doing good deeds in order to benefit their reputation. Which resembles to what KFC is doing by fillin potholes. Since when you actually do something beacuse you want to do it you do not seek attention, you simply just do it. Not mattering wheteher people know it it was you or not, as hildaCMS satated before, "refreshed by KFC" simply just seems as if they are trying to make publicity of their brand. But there is an old saying that says, "any publicity is good publicity", which may put in doubt whether KFC is benefiting from this.

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Tkwon CMS

“I don't see any reason why KFC should be particularly good at filling potholes, and I don't really see how potholes tie back to chicken”

Now, Mr.Levitt, tell me how sexy women and famous soccer players tie in with the quality of Pepsi's products.

Anyways, I also think this is a brilliant marketing ploy. Strenghthen the company's image = $$$. Change in consumer tastes. Shifts demand curve outward.

Benjamin Winters

I'm typically incredulous of marketing campaigns, but at least this one has a useful outcome. As to whether or not they are good at it, I assume they can outsource the work. At the very least it's an original tact and is bound to get them positive attention. Though, being a vegetarian, it's unlikely to earn them my business.

Lauren B.

Poor customer service is prominent at most fast food restaurants, not just KFC. When I go to a KFC, Burger King or Taco Bell, I realize that I'm paying for the convenience of a fast meal, not an employee's welcoming smile. (Although, it would be nice to have the low price, fast meal, and customer appreciation.) I've grown to expect nothing more than minimal converstion and bland facial expressions from minimum-wage-earning workers in fast food service.

However, KFC's initiative to earn credibility is impressive. A program enabling them to perform community service while improving their own image is perfectly fine by me. Kudos to them. The most any other fast food chain has done is to ensure us we can have it our way . . . as long as they can roll their eyes when I ask for no onions.

sandy

this dosnt make any sense .why they shoul fill potholes???!