Crisis Communication Best Practices

by | Jan 17, 2019 | Community Management, EduSocial Blog, Strategy | 0 comments

Time-sensitive. Not planned. Stressful. These are a few words that come to mind when I hear the term “crisis communications.”
No matter what type of organization you work for or even if you own your own business, chances are you’ve experienced a time-sensitive, unplanned issue. For example, your large shipping order is delayed and you promised the customer it would arrive yesterday. Or, maybe you experienced an equipment failure during your big leadership presentation.

The reality is that we have no control over any of these situations, however, we can definitely choose our attitude and response.

So, what are some things you can do if you find yourself in this type of situation?

1) Respond in a timely manner 
Let’s use that shipping example I mentioned earlier. As soon as you are aware of the shipping delays, figure out what you’re going to say to your customer, the way you’re going to say it and how you’re going to communicate it. Keep in mind that may need to talk with some other colleagues to get their thoughts, too. What matters is that you let the customer know in a timely manner.

Don’t forget to put yourself in the customer’s shoes when you are compiling your response. What information is important to them?

2) Stay calm
Easier said than done, but try and remain as calm as possible during an unexpected situation. Remember that you can set the tone. Throughout my career, I’ve tried my best to remain calm (even if I was freaking out inside) and I’ve learned that this helped my colleagues also remain calm. Calmness encourages more calmness. Is being angry going to fix the situation? No. Stay calm and focus on the task at hand.

3) Have a plan going forward
Does your organization have a strategy for dealing with crises? If not, you should. At NISM we offer a Crisis Communications Course to help get you started. Regardless of the tools you use, be sure to outline your strategy for responding to an unexpected situation. Clearly identify who’s roll it is to respond to the issue?  And discuss any potential situations where you may offer compensation to the customer.  Having these outlined ahead of time will increase response time and decrease customer tension.

Keep in mind that even if you have a plan, you still may need to alter that plan to reflect the current situation. What I’ve learned in my career is that each crisis is different. There might be commonalities (maybe each one deals with customers), but usually, there are some unique aspects that you just couldn’t have planned for.

What are some of the best crisis communications responses you have seen? Share your thoughts with us on who does it well.

Author: Amy Berger

Head shot for Amy BergerAmy Berger is a corporate communications writer based in Minnesota. Previously, she spent over ten years working for state and federal government and brings a unique perspective of how best to utilize communication methods. She’s a big believer in evaluating communications strategies on a regular basis and finding new ways to deliver information. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Gustavus Adophus College and a Master’s in Business Administration from the College of Saint Scholastica.

Connect with her through Linkedin and Twitter @amykberger


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