As Storm Ciara wreaks havoc across the UK and Europe, airlines across the Continent are in chaos. Writing this whilst sat in Geneva airport hoping that the next available flight to London (via Zurich) will take off, the stress and frustration of travellers is palpable.
Whilst some brands may be able to create positives from the storm, such as British Airways and its transatlantic record, the success of their crisis management strategies will mainly be judged by one of their key stakeholders, the customer.
Navigating a crisis, irrelevant of whether it is caused through accident, scandal or an act of God is a true test of a company in the eyes of its stakeholders. How a company communicates during this period is absolutely fundamental to it navigating the storm as smoothly as possible in the circumstances and to reinforcing its reputation afterwards.
This means more than issuing a holding statement.
It means having a structured process and plan devised when times are good in anticipation of the worst. It is impossible to foresee everything, including 100 mile per hour winds, but having a manual in place which can be adapted quickly provides a sound basis for risk management.
This plan needs to take a granular look at risks from the bottom up. It needs to consider eventualities from technology and operations, platforms for engagement internally and externally, and requires implementation from all of the employees who represent the company – from the front desk to the CEO.
As a consumer, I should be informed of what is going to impact me, by the organisation, before I have to look for myself. I want to know that the company is in control of the situation and when I speak to a customer support or sales team, I want a calm, informed and helpful individual to guide me through this.
Training your teams on the ground is imperative to customer perceptions. Everyone from your security teams to administrative and management roles need to be well-equipped to handle confused and frustrated customers. The user experience is what draws brand loyalty and a lasting reputation, particularly in instances of crisis.
Newgate has navigated companies through the whole range of crises, helping to stamp flames out before they take hold, or to fire fight when something takes off unexpectedly. Our best advice is to always plan for the unexpected before you find yourself in the midst of it.