A crisis can really put your business to the test. How you respond to crises will define your business and can affect its brand image, profitability, and leadership holds within the market. Here are 4 ways you can prepare ahead for a crisis to help your business get through prosper in the storm.
1. Plan Ahead and Recognize it When it Happens
A crisis team that can oversee the progression of the crisis, recognize it if or when it happens, and communicate clearly, honestly, and openly beforehand the plans of the company in the event that the crises occurs is extremely important. With the impending coronavirus epidemic, my company in the skincare industry has already sent a companywide email advising best practices to avoid getting the virus, posted flyers in office as well as communicated on a customer basis with tips to avoid contracting the virus. Some crises are expected while some are not.
3. Communicate, Early and Often and Align the Message
Following the first signs of a crisis, it is important for the brand to acknowledge and communicate early on however, brands should not overpromise in these stages. Communicating something is important to the perception of the brand as it shows the public that the brand is aware and the brand cares. “You should communicate progress, early and often,” offers Anne Marie Malecha, senior vice president, and partner at Dezenhall Resources, a leading high-stakes public affairs and crisis management firm in Washington DC. “One of the ultimate goals of crisis management is to make your crisis as unsexy and uninteresting as possible.” That is accomplished through regular updates of incremental progress. A crisis affects the normal operations of the business as during a crisis such as the Coronavirus, customers are not necessarily looking to buy skincare but are more so looking at masks, alcohol, etc. to battle the virus. The immediate need to battle the impending crisis takes the front line. We should always reassure our customers that they are important to us.
5. Listen and Stop What Isn’t Helping
Two-way communication in the midst of a crisis is beneficial as you can engage your customers. A company that is informed can use its platform such as social media to calm customers by answering what questions are on their mind. Your attitude to crisis matters to the customer and keeps the customer-brand relationship intact. Companies are to respond with appropriate action, for example, changing the tone of your brand’s social media accounts from irreverent to respectful given the coming crisis. It reflects well on the company to tone down on marketing for sales and to be sensitive and not waste resources.
“Good companies allow the crisis to be a catalyst for positive operational change. Poor leadership can allow the crisis to drive the company to free fall,” says Malecha. The objective of Crisis Management is to return to business as usual as fast as possible.