There are two types of people in this world: those that overshare and those that completely shut you out.
Just like there are two sides to a brand – when brands communicate non-stop and then when they don’t.
This was my experience two weeks ago with SAA. When it was time to board, the staff were all smiles and welcoming me like royalty. Then something happened and there was no flight attendant in sight. We sat in that plane for an hour with no feedback from the very people we were hoping would give us that open dialogue.
A couple of years ago Rob Stokes, Quirk eMarketing’s CEO, wrote a post entitled 10 steps to Recover from an Online Brand Attack, which has been published by many ORM agencies. You can find it in the eMarketing: The essential guide to digital marketing Fourth Edition.
One of his points says: “One of the easiest ways to solve the majority of brand attacks is to respond quickly. A brand that shows it is listening and does indeed care will go far when it comes to ensuring a solid online reputation. The very same consumers who are complaining are actively keeping an eye out for a reaction.”
One word – communication. `The relationship between a consumer and a brand is like a marriage. You have to communicate to make the partnership work. You have to communicate twice as much when there is a problem.
The recent Netflorist Valentine’s Day saga is a great example of how to keep the lines of communication open with your customers. Hundreds of NetFlorist customers complained on Twitter, Facebook, and HelloPeter about their orders not being delivered on Valentine’s Day. Netflorist could have done the ‘we are not to blame’ game but instead NetFlorist managing director Ryan Bacher published a video on YouTube apologising for the company’s failure to deliver all the orders.
Bacher stated that NetFlorist should have been prepared for these hurdles, and it is their fault the deliveries did not reach their destination. He promised customers the company would do what is necessary to fix their mistake.
Obviously, customers were fuming and while Netflorist was officially the Grinch of Valentine’s Day, the way the brand handled the crisis deserves some recognition. Social media has become a very powerful voice for businesses, but also for the average person. Netflorist was open in its dialogue and that is the number one rule of crisis management.
Long-lasting, brand-customer relationships are built on a solid foundation of trust.
Organisations need to understand that in a crisis, they are competing with every form of media to tell their story and the principle of any crisis communication plan is to be proactive, transparent, and accountable.
Take off the blinkers. Step back, put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and ask, “How would I feel if this happened to me?” I am still waiting for SAA to reply to my Tweet by the way.
Perception is everything and brands cannot over communicate in times of crisis. Have you included crisis management in your communications strategy?
Charis Apelgren-Coleman is the head of digital content at Kagiso Media. She has worked with small and large local organisations as well as large multinational organisations, while managing specialist content teams.
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