Toyota’s predicament speaks for itself, but what would your small business do if it faced a raft of angry or injured customers? Crisis management principles are often the same regardless of the scale of your business – it’s not just mega corporations that risk dealing with angry, hurt or confused customers.
In preparing for incidents of blowback with their goods or services, here are some questions any small business marketing or communications professional must ask:
• Have you accepted the possibility of a mistake? The first step is always the hardest. In small business communications, it’s important to accept that something in your supply chain can (and will) go wrong. Define the potential problem before you start crafting messages to respond.
• Do you have a crisis response plan in place? You must determine what you’ll say depending on who are the key stakeholders – customers, business partners, regulators, and so forth.
• Have you designated a spokesperson for media inquiries, and have they undergone media training? Don’t just assume that your spokesperson will do great on camera. Media training is a serious discipline and absolutely necessary if you’re going to survive tough interviews.
• Do you have a media list of reporters and media outlets who would cover your crisis? You know your industry, trade and community better than anyone else. Identify the key media outlets, trade publications and other interested journalists and bloggers who will take interest in your business’s response to any situation.
• Can you update your website’s home page quickly to ensure your response is easily visible? Your site designers should have built the site’s architecture in a way that allows a prominent update to appear on your homepage. And on that end, do you have a process in place for Facebook and Twitter updates? You do have Facebook and Twitter pages for your small business… right?
If the answer to any of these questions are “no” you should let us know…