When things go wrong, the thing that your customers will remember is how you deal with it. It is possible, through clear and positive crisis communications, to turn a disaster into something that will leave your customers with a feeling of goodwill towards your company. However, it takes more than just a carefully worded press release to achieve this, and that’s where crisis management training comes in.
Effective crisis communications require that you tell your customer that there is a problem, and explain how you will deal with it. You need to keep your customers informed at every step of the way, and also make sure that you offer them as much help and support as possible to minimize the impact of your crisis.
How can you benefit from crisis management training?
If you don’t have someone inside your company that is skilled in crisis communications, then nominating someone high up in the company to receive crisis management training is a good idea. Ideally, you would want your PR manager, and whoever is in charge of customer service to receive some crisis management training, along with any senior managers.
If you leave your crisis communications planning until the moment that a crisis occurs, then it will probably be far too late. The best thing to do is to have a solid crisis communications plan in place at all times. Naturally, you cannot plan for every possible crisis, but the more planning you do, the better. At a minimum, you will want to lay out some basic plans and instructions for your staff so that they know who to contact in a crisis.
You should also have some idea of who, outside of your company, would need to be contacted if things went wrong. Are there health and safety or legal regulations that you should comply with? Are there companies that you can work with to ensure that your customers get a good level of continued service during the problems?
If you can work out the answers to those questions then you would have a good chance of handling any crisis well. The important thing, in the long term, is to ensure that any crisis is handled in a positive manner. If you can handle things correctly then your customers will remember your great customer service, rather than whatever it was that caused the crisis.
The ideal solution would be for things to never go wrong in the first place, but that isn’t really practical. There are many occasions when, through no fault of your own, you could end up unable to deliver your usual service. For example, earthquakes, floods, outsourcing outages, fires, or theft could interfere with your ability to complete work for your customers. In those cases, some good crisis management training could be the difference between minor inconvenience to your customers, and a PR disaster that could cause your company to go under. It’s not paranoid to prepare for the worst in fact, in business it simply makes sense.