How to Bounce Back After A Crisis
You probably recall back in 2010 when BP’s oil rig failed, discharging what was estimated to be 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, affecting somewhere between 2,500 to 68,000 square miles of water and coastlines. In addition to the financial burdens placed on the company (the EPA temporarily banning BP from seeking new contracts with the US government and a whopping $18.7 billion from fines - the largest corporate settlement in US history), the company’s reputation suffered - and, continues to suffer - due to poor reactions from management after the spill occurred.
Other more recent issues such as the viral video of a passenger being forcibly removed on United Airlines, the failure of the Fyre Festival to live up to what was promised, and the numerous scandals surrounding Uber’s previous CEO Travis Kalanick, further showcase the dangers of not handling crises properly.
You may think that your company is immune to such a thing. If you do think that, you would be wrong. These sort of issues can happen to any company, no matter the size or the industry that they serve. Even worse, a crisis can strike at any time, for a number of reasons. Issues that occur could happen because of...
- A mistake made by an employee
- Weather-related issues that impacted your business and its services
- A problem with your business’ technological infrastructure
- A successful DDoS attack
- Sabotage via a disgruntled former employee or your competition
...and, numerous other possibilities.
Depending on what the issue is, the results of the issue may negatively affect your customers. When this happens, it can be detrimental to your company’s brand. A survey of marketing executives found that:
- 57% of the businesses represented did not have a crisis response plan.
- Approximately 50% of the companies who did have a crisis plan have not tested its implementation.
- 53% have experienced a business crisis that resulted in negative news coverage, declining sales or reduced profitability.
- 23% said it took between three months and a year for their brand to fully recover from a crisis; 13.3% said it took more than two years to recover; and 17.7% said they have yet to recover after two years.
To protect your brand when a situation occurs, you have to carefully handle things so that you can mitigate the long-term damages that the situation could - and, likely will - cause.
- Communicate Immediately: Once you discover an incident has occured, get in touch with all of those who were affected by this issue as soon as possible. Sending a well-crafted email blast is best, which may be paired with social media posts and personal phone calls depending on the number of people affected and the nature of the incident. It may be best to get in touch with a local newspaper or news channel if the issue that occurred would do extreme damage to your brand. This will allow you to take better control of the narrative.
- Apologize: Companies like BP Oil and United Airlines initially failed to do this, which fostered further discontent and dissatisfaction with their brand. The apology you offer needs to be genuine, and it should be a part of your initial communications - waiting too long to apologize will make it seem like you don’t actually care.
- Explain: Make sure that those that were affected are well aware of what occurred, including a timeline of (1) what happened, and (2) how long it will take you to resolve the issue itself. If the issue will take an extended period of time to fix, provide regular updates so that your affected clients aren’t left in the dark.
- Prevent Dissatisfaction from Growing: If the issue that occured was severe enough, the affected customers may take their business elsewhere. Do what it takes to prevent this from happening: you could send them a small gift to further apologize, give them a discount, or even give them a refund - depending on what the issue actually was.
- Make Changes: Do whatever it takes to minimize the chances of this issue - and, any related issues - happening to your company. And, if there were any ‘hiccups’ during the previous four steps, ensure that they don’t happen again if another crisis occurs.
Planning for Future Crises
The best way to protect your business from an out-of-control situation is to have a crisis management plan in place that can handle a variety of different scenarios. But it isn’t enough to just have the plan: you have to train your employees on what they need to do when something occurs, refresh your plan and your employees’ memory of the plan itself from time to time, and maybe even consider doing a practice run so that everyone is ready for whatever disaster may come your way.
And, if you need further help getting ahead of a crisis or creating an actual crisis management plan, reach out to us today...before it’s too late.