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So your company has survived the crisis. The dust has settled and sales are starting to pick up again. Everyone can breathe sigh of relief, right? Well, yes, up to a point. But this is no time for self-congratulation and complacency. Now the hard work begins as you start to rebuild consumer trust over time, in the wake of a crisis.
Once the initial response has been made, it’s time to form a more detailed and measured response to the public. Create a crisis overview to give an outline of what happened on which to base this response.
The crisis overview needs to answer a number of key questions.
Present the facts of the situation, fully and truthfully. Don’t try to equivocate and deflect blame. Outline exactly what the crisis involved.
Here again, you need to avoid the blame game and instead present the root causes of the crisis. Any attempt to blame the crisis solely on external sources will not sit well with customers. They will suspect the company is trying to hide something.
This will give customers a good sense of the scale of the problem, and whether it affects them.
You also need to make clear who was involved. Was it human error, or a systemic failure? Was it caused by criminals intent on damaging the company, or employees with a grudge?
Customers also want assurance that you have crisis management plans in place. So when this crisis broke, who was alerted and how? Were external organizations or law enforcement involved? Did you have to contact emergency services?
Now come arguably two of the most important questions you need to address. How will the current situation be dealt with? And what steps will you be taking to prevent future issues? People need to know that you have learned from the crisis and are being proactive to prevent a recurrence.
In a crisis overview, you aim to address the most likely questions that people have about the crisis. However, you can’t anticipate every possible question or concern. So, in the crisis overview, make sure you provide contact information for people with further questions.
Your crisis overview can then be published as a press release to follow up on your initial response to the situation.
At this stage, there may still be a lot of detractors online. A careful balancing is required now. Of course, it’s best to be proactive and face the issues head on. However, you also need to make sure that the discussion doesn’t descend into unproductive arguments with angry consumers. Unfortunately, some people are never satisfied! And once they have your attention, they are reluctant to let you go. So engage with them as far as you productively can. State your case, and proactively offer information in a transparent and authentic way. And then move on.
Let’s consider another example from Johnson & Johnson. In 2018, the company faced allegations that there was asbestos in its talcum powder. The company addressed the concerns raised by creating a ‘Facts About Talc’ microsite, which tackled the allegations head on.
An informational website like this can provide an all-in-one place for people to inform themselves over concerns. Your company can then link to this site in social media conversations. You can also ensure that it appears in search results. After all, search and social media are the two key channels that people will use to find out more about a product issue like this. You want to make your own site the endpoint of as many consumer queries as possible. This enables you to control the message. Also, it helps to settle the matter in the mind of the consumers. And it underlines the brand’s commitment to the customer’s safety first and foremost.Back to Top
Bill Phillips is an International Facilitator, Trainer, and Team Coach.
In this module, Bill is the instructor for the ‘Conflict Management’ lesson.
Will Francis is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker.
In this module, Will is the instructor for the ‘Crisis Management’ lesson.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
Every leader will be faced with conflicts between team members from time to time. Some leaders have to deal with major crises too, where the company’s reputation – and sometimes its very survival – may be at stake. This module can help you respond effectively in such situations.
You will learn how to manage workplace conflicts effectively when they break out. You will discover techniques you can use to deal with the warring parties and defuse their anger, as well as helping them to resolve their issues and find common ground.
You will also be introduced to the principles of crisis management. You will find out about the types of crises that typically affect organizations, and how you can prepare for them in advance. You will also learn how to handle crises in the short term, and the steps you can take to repair damage and rebuild trust with your customers in the long term.