The start of fixing an issue is acknowledging that there is one, if your company is so unconnected to their public reputation that you have no idea what is being said about you on any given way it may be time to invest some people into research. Being blindly hit with huge brand damage can knock a company back and do larger damage to their name than if they were prepared for the situation. Whether prepared or not, when damage hits a company name it needs to be sorted quickly and efficiently to avoid any further judgement. Doing so does not have to be difficult, though it is unavoidable that the process is going to be stressful and time consuming for all employees whether they have a social influence on the company or not. Bringing your workforce together to solve an issue can be difficult if the workplace is usually quite divided, but it is possible.
A huge part of a company’s damage control after an incident is their response. A Public response needs to be made, as official as possible in the form of a press conference, social media post or even a blog article. As long as the response is publicised in a way where customers will see it, it should have the desired effect. Your initial response needs to be prompt, but should not be given too early. Be sure to weigh out the size of the situation and see if the situation is as large as it seems, if your customers are not talking about the issue then hang back, fix it and keep regular updates but if the issue is already in the the mouths of your audience be sure to make a fast public response when initial tension has partially died down. In your response you should give details about the issue at hand and how it may be affecting customers, showing that you understand the effect your mistakes may be having on them and apologise. Also outline the steps you’re taking to address the issue, even if all you can currently say is that you are looking into the issue. Give out regular overall reviews that give more detailed information on your strategy as it develops, offering as much information as possible. The most important thing to remember while doing this is to be honest, if your brand’s reputation has already been damaged, a vague or untruthful response could make it irreparable.
Whether the issue at hand is taking place online or offline, be sure to act on social media as well as in any other format. Twitter is incredibly helpful for dismissing claims and giving out fast, to the point information. Doing this ensures your brand is communicating through its struggles and allows your company to respond to any comments on social media it may get, whether negative or positive. This opens opportunities to reach out to any affected customers that may have otherwise been uncontactable and also allows you to respond in real time, dealing with the crisis as it happens and being more effective. Fast and credible posts and comment responses makes your brand appear more efficient and helpful, especially when they inform as much as possible without being too repetitive. Keeping a hold on your brands social media allows your company to be in control of the world’s online view of its brand rather than someone else who may be out to ruin your business with negative comments and accusations. However in control you are of your social media presence, do not be too ashamed to apologise when customers rightly complain, as this may actually be beneficial in the long term handling of the situation.
However well one person can handle the situation, another may not deal with it so well. Remembering that your brand is made up of many different people rather than just one is key to shaping your responses as a whole company. Keep your employees on the same page and workplace communication flowing well by sharing any information as it appears or changes and also promoting the idea of workers notifying each other and their overheads of any new developments they may not have noticed. This kind of working environment ensures that no wrong or outdated information gets out, it also lets every employee know how to react when the company is contacted, including what to say. Offer set out responses to any employee that has to engage with the public along with a set that are unacceptable. Unacceptable responses are usually those that are vague or could get your brand into even deeper trouble when taken a different way to their intended meaning. Make it a known fact that when the company is at fault employees should have no worry about owning up and apologising on the company’s behalf.
Once you’ve dealt with the social impact of your mistakes, it is time to make good on your word. Word hard to fix the issue, even if this requires scouting for volunteers that are willing to work extra hours until the problem is solved. However you go about fixing your mistake, be sure you do not end up giving empty promises and follow up on the public comments you made about how your company will be dealing with the situation. Make the steps you are taking public if you have to as a way of keeping your customers informed and involved. Alongside this offer reports on the findings of any investigation or fixes that are taking place so the world is aware on how close your mishap is to being over and inform on how your company plans to avoid such issues in the future. These kinds of progress updates and forward planning shows your customers that you are intent on fixing this issue for their sake and that you are more reliable as you are getting the problem solved whilst still keeping them updated, giving off the impression that you are not withholding information for your brand’s sake. Throughout the fix and afterwards prove that you have stuck to your word and adapt your process if you have not, being untruthful during this process can also add that final blow to your brands reputation.
With a major crisis averted you may feel a huge sigh of relief coming on, but your work is not done yet. Moving forward it is important to adapt your company’s processes, procedures and even regulations to help prevent such an issue in future. Having a crisis strategy can be a huge help if your business never finds itself in this situation again as they outline processes of monitoring a businesses online and offline presence to look out for and detect early any issues or isolated events that may damage reputation, allowing your business to take measures to avoid these problems before they happen. They also act as a guide for future reference for employees on how to act in a crisis situation including how to respond and how much of an issue they can openly discuss without permission.