Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CEO of Chen Fu Ji Clarifies Facebook Post Questioning Hefty Bill Charged to Diner

In another case of bad PR for a local restaurant on social media, the CEO of Chen Fu Ji (CFJ) has clarified a Facebook posting by an unhappy customer over a hefty bill.

While I applaud the CEO for addressing the matter head-on, I however feel that his response failed to adequately address the concerns of potential customers and, in my opinion, is unlikely to mitigate the reputational damage.  Unfortunately, his failure is common.

How the CEO (and his PR team) could have done better was to perform a Stakeholder Analysis (see diagram below) where the respective stakeholders are identified together with their concerns.  In this case, the main concerns of potential customers would have been identified as:
  1. Whether they will be a victim of overcharging?
  2. How they can ensure overcharging or billing errors do not happen to them?
  3. Can I afford to eat at CFJ?


Recognizing these as the concerns of the stakeholder's, CFJ’s CEO's message should therefore address these concerns.  His message to the media would thus have been the following (instead of merely explaining the error and the cost of the pu'er tea and fried rice).

  1. CFJ offers an extensive range of food and depending on the item ordered, prices will vary.  All prices are clearly indicated on the menu.
  2. CFJ has a robust system in place similar to any large restaurant.  This is the first time* that such an incident has happened to us and we apologise.  To prevent a reoccurrence, we will implement a second layer of checks by a supervisor for bills that exceed $500.  In addition, if customers fine a billing error, we will offer them a $30 food voucher** off their next meal.
  3. CFJ is dedicated to deliver good food at good value and the average price per head per meal is $30 per head.
In short, a common mistake for most company’s in crisis communications is not understanding the concerns of the stakeholder.  Without this understanding, any message communicated will fall short of the intended objective.
* State this if it is true
** CWFA’s recommendation as actions speak louder than words.

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