Last week Oprah took heat for two things that, personally, I didn't think were her fault. However, the occurrence shows us a few things that we all need to learn, especially in our customer service efforts.

On her show two weeks ago, Oprah mentioned something about the new KFC grilled chicken, and was offering free coupons from her website for the item.

The first problem is that it wasn't readily easy to see where the link was to the coupon off her site, but that wasn't a big deal because people did find it.

The second problem is that, by clicking on the link, it took you to another website, something called "unthink"; that was weird, but the coupon was there.

The third problem is that, what you were initially looking at wasn't the coupon. Turned out you had to click on another link, sign up, giving your email address, and then you'd get a different coupon, one with a barcode on it, that you had to take in.

The fourth problem is that there were so many people trying to get the coupon that it literally took hours to get into this part of the site to get the coupon.

The fifth problem, which I guess isn't that big of a deal, is that you could only print one coupon. I guess that part makes sense, since they didn't want you to print hundreds of coupons to get free chicken.

The sixth problem had nothing to do with the website, and I only read about this part. KFC ran out of chicken in many of their locations, so they ended up handing people rain checks. That's pretty familiar to me, per my rant about Tim Horton's some weeks ago that ended up doing the same thing.

The seventh problem is that no one at the Oprah Show knew that some animal activists have condemned KFC's chicken for how Perdue, the company they get it from, processes the stuff. That turned into another instant campaign on Twitter.

Here's my take on it all, from a customer service perspective. One, all the redirects just to get a coupon for a couple of pieces of free chicken was overkill. That wasn't thought out properly, and caused a lot of people a lot of grief.

Two, sending people to a site called "unthink" was, well, unthinkable. I hadn't heard if that was part of their advertising campaign or not, but if it was, I missed it, and so did a lot of other people.

Three, making people have to sign in with their email address so KFC could have an extra opportunity to market themselves to people was a bad customer service move. I understand that they were trying to keep the number down for people who might try to get more than one coupon, but it should have just taken people to a coupon page and been done with it.

Four, blaming Oprah for KFC running out of chicken, or for getting their chickens from Perdue, is illogical, but it's also a big part of customer service issues. Customers will blame a store for not stocking a particular item anymore when in reality the manufacturer has stopped making the item, but the information isn't properly passed along. Whether all information should be passed along is another matter to consider, but one can only know what one has been told.

This is an important customer service lesson. Companies need to think things through, including the negatives, before embarking on a campaign, and they also need to make sure every party along the line has been fully informed. Also, never make it hard for the customer to partake of your products or services; many won't wait around long if you do.

So, I still have my KFC chicken coupon, and haven't decided yet whether I'm going to take it in or not. I have until the 19th to cash it in, which is 8 days from now. I might, and I might not, since, for my taste buds, KFC chicken's taste had changed since they switched to oils with no trans fat. Still, this is grilled, so it's supposed to be beyond that. We'll see.