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.