In September last year, South Korean tech giant Samsung found itself in a bit of a pickle. After hundreds of reports that the batteries on its Galaxy Note 7 caused the smartphone’s batteries to overheat and catch fire, the brand decided to recall the device.
It was clear that Samsung had a crisis on its hands, but how it handled the situation left much to be desired. This was evident in the early stages when its response to the reported incidents was a seemingly insignificant, easy-to-miss tab added to its website. Alerts about the problems were only sent to consumers several days after the malfunction made news headlines.
So what can business executives take away from this Samsung incident? For starters, C-suite execs should always be aware that a crisis can happen in any business – no business is immune whether it is a successful conglomerate or a small startup.
A few ways to safeguard your business:
Anticipate crises: It’s not a case of “if” something goes wrong, but “when” something goes wrong. Your communication systems and your crisis communication team should be meeting regularly to discuss what potential crises can affect your business. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify shortfalls and prevent incidents from happening. This will also give you a plan for how to best respond if something goes wrong.
Embrace notification and monitoring systems: Today, it is critical to communicate with stakeholders and customers via multiple channels. Before a crisis occurs, take some time to establish what notification systems will allow you to rapidly reach everyone you need to contact. This is likely to entail using several modalities to get your message across. In line with this, a comprehensive monitoring system will allow you to keep tabs on what is being said about your business so that you can respond before stories spin out of control.
Repair broken processes: Embracing alternative communication methods and encouraging frequent communications are just a few ways to guarantee that your communication systems are running as they should. It comes down to improving the way your team members communicate and share information with each other. This will help them to work as a team when things don’t go according to plan.
Build a strong foundation: Some of the cornerstones of developing an effective crisis communication framework include establishing a communication team that spans different departments with different skill sets. In this team, there should be clear leadership structures, with those in charge taking responsibility for reacting to a crisis as quickly as possible. It is also essential for businesses to regularly practise how they will respond in a crisis. Think of testing your communication systems by trying a fire drill.
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