“We’re investigating the matter.”
A statement which, to my mind, is used far too often and doesn’t show the kind of decisive action stakeholders are looking for in a crisis.
Take the latest frap-poo-cino scandal to hit Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero.
Costa has played this perfectly by stating the company has introduced new handling procedures.
Starbucks and Caffe Nero are “currently investigating” - a mealy-mouthed response to something which requires swift action to win back customer confidence.
As a coffee lover, I’d be choosing to pick up my drinks from Costa right now, because at least I know what they’ve done to rectify this situation.
The chain has updated its ice-handling guidelines and is in the process of introducing new ice equipment storage. Which all sounds positive.
But what are Starbucks and Caffe Nero doing? They haven't told us.
The coffee chains need to be as open and transparent as possible in their response to this, and give visual demonstrations they are working hard to prevent bacterial infection.
Having staff wear sanitised rubber gloves and/or wash their hands before dealing with icy drinks, would be a good move.
If handled right, this will be a storm in a coffee cup – it will blow over and everyone will be talking about something else next week.
But it is one of those cases when representatives should not turn down opportunities to comment to the press – providing detailed information on what has been done to tighten up sanitisation procedures.
A "we are investigating" response is only suitable when a company needs to step back and take some time to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of what has happened.
This is not one of those cases. Faecal bacteria can only have come from poor hygiene procedures. And in any cases of contamination, the public needs to be assured immediately that everything has been done to eliminate the risk.
Only then can they sip their ice-based coffee drinks with confidence.
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