Crisis Management — you can’t afford to be without a plan!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “a lie can travel around the world before the truth has got its boots on”. Well, in this era of super-fast communication, a bad review or negative article can travel around the world before a good one has even reached for its socks.

If you don’t react immediately and appropriately to a customer problem, you can almost instantly have a major problem on your hands. It is never OK to ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.

Reacting instantly and consistently is key to gaining a reputation for excellent customer service and, given the level of choice facing consumers in all industries, you have to provide excellent service if you want to stand out. Recommendations from other customers and positive stories online and in the media are often the deciding factor in choosing a particular product or service and even one bad piece about you can send customers running.

Here are the things you need to do to avoid disaster and get those good reviews mounting up:

  1. Have a crisis plan even if you don’t plan a crisis!

Things go wrong for everybody at some point and it can be hard to predict what sort or level of issue you might face. You need a clear strategy that lays out;

  • Who is speaking for the company?
  • Initial standard responses
  • The crisis handling process (investigation, solution, compensation)
  • Timeframes
  • Debriefing

The crisis could be major and require delicate PR or relatively minor and involve one-to-one communications with customers. Building a plan that works for your business is crucial. If you want a crisis management plan built uniquely for you by an expert, please get in touch.

2. Respond immediately

Your response might be “ I will look into it and get back to you”, or it might be an instant solution. Responding quickly prevents a complainant — be that an individual or the media — from telling too many people that there’s a problem and you aren’t dealing with it.

3. If the complaint is public, make it private until it is solved

It’s pretty much standard these days to tweet a complaint rather than call or email. If you can answer a complaint immediately and satisfactorily, then do so. However, if the problem requires investigation, get the conversation onto email or direct message as quickly as possible and keep it there until it is solved, at which point you can publicly say that it is solved. This ensures that angry communications from the complainant are not public and gives you a chance to deal with them without an audience.

4. Remember that a crisis is an opportunity to shine

It’s easy to panic when a crisis becomes public, to react badly or, worse, not react at all and hope it will go away. Throughout all this, it’s vital to remember that people are just looking for a story. If you don’t react, the story is entirely out of your control and your brand image can be irreparably tarnished. However, a crisis gives you a platform that you would otherwise have to fight for. You have the audience attention, either online or through the media and it’s a great chance to tell your story in a positive way. Use your platform wisely to show that you are solving the problem and hey, while you’re all looking at my company, here are some other wonderful things about it!

Turning a disaster into a triumph can require expertise. If you’d like to find out how we can help you do this — or hear us boast about some of our successes! — just get in touch.