Crises may be inevitable, but it is how they are handled that makes a massive difference. Research shows that companies today have an 82% chance of experiencing a corporate disaster of some kind, which, within a 5 year period, can result in a 20% loss of market value. 20 years ago, the likelihood was just 20%. An evident consequence of our evolving digital world and free flow of information that can spread so rapidly.
Preparation = Protection
Being prepared for a crisis gives you the best chance of protecting your brand and allows your reaction to be concise, credible and effective. When a damage mitigation strategy has been devised ahead of time, you then have the tools and the know how to act fast - crucial during the ‘sink or swim’ initial moments.
Handling communication effectively with customers, employees and stakeholders throughout the process is paramount, to ensure that they are not only kept up to date with all the information, but with the right information, conveying the correct messaging and tone to represent your company and brand in the way intended.
Being transparent and ensuring that the customers feel ‘in the know’ about all aspects of the process limits the negative effects of customer dissatisfaction and can even lead to increased positive engagement. Be open about any risks and show you are taking action, quickly.
Blair Nicole Nastasi from Forbes online explains: it’s always best to address the crisis head-on, rather than to wait for speculation to form on social media and in the news. Issue a statement in a timely manner (preferably within 24 to 48 hours following the incident), and outline the steps you plan to take as a company in order to avoid the same thing happening in the future.
Do over-communicate in the right way. Cover all of the channels your customers use and prepare consistent messaging to fire-fight. You must ensure they are monitored at all times and sufficient, skilled resource to handle activity is in place. It’s just as important to think about the customer experience here as it is in non-crises scenarios.
This will come as no surprise by saying the main channel to monitor is online presence – particularly social media platforms. Nowadays negative comments can go viral at such a pace. The Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Study states “28% of crises spread internationally online within 1 hour” But, social media can also be used to your advantage, not only for connecting customers, generating positive brand awareness or promotional opportunities, but as a tool to measure when you may be on the verge of a potential crisis. Here are some key indicators to look out for;
- Growing or overwhelmingly negative customer sentiments toward your brand compared to competitors.
- Sudden spikes in brand-related posts within a short period of time; spikes that are not directly related to a campaign or product launch might have been catalysed by a negative incident that is gaining momentum online.
- Customer complaints that are gaining virality on social media. - Digiminds -
Choose a suitable partner
Finally, choose a suitable partner ahead of time; do not wait until the highly stressful and critical situation of a crisis to appoint a crisis communications partner. This company will be your voice, contacting your customers and offering solutions. Your partner must be familiar with your brand strategy and work closely with you to make the situation as painless as possible – short and long term.
When appointing your crisis partner, consider these points:
- What is the global reach of the communication agency? Can they cover multiple jurisdictions? Do they know the local markets you need to cover?
- How quickly can they kick into action? If already appointed, your partner should understand your company and its values.
- Do you or your partner have the ability to monitor the different communication channels and use innovative technology to measure customer sentiment or provide analysis reports for internal management? This is key when deciding what next steps to take.
- With the ever increasing consumer protection legislation, being prepared for a crisis should be part of your company strategy regardless whether you have had one before or not, and, it must be communicated to all internal stakeholders to ensure everyone is working from the same page.
About Marketpoint Recall
Based in London, Los Angeles and NY, Marketpoint Recall is a division of global marketing agency Marketpoint. With over 35 years of international experience, Marketpoint Recall has developed channels and processes that cater to a wide range of industries including retail, food, medical, automotive, security and more. The Marketpoint Recall team guides businesses through a recall process, working as an extension of the business to deliver global recall and crisis response services quickly, while minimizing negative ramifications of a product recall or crisis. The company’s global reach and capabilities to handle the recall across geographical and language barriers set it apart from other companies in the industry. For more information, visit the website www.marketpointrecall.com