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How to Keep Your Online Customers Informed During an Emergency?

by on June 28, 2021 in Business, Marketing

Corporate crises are inevitable, and they often come with a sudden spike in customer requests for information, cancellations, and people wanting to express their irritation. Keeping calm in this kind of situation is a challenge, and being prepared on how you respond is a must.

In this article, you’ll find eight crisis communication tips that will help you deal with any emergency your business may encounter. 

1. Create a Crisis Management Plan

Developing a crisis plan helps everyone keep calm, including your team and customers. Confident and prepared responses from employees can reduce the customers’ inconvenience, keeping the credibility of your business. 

Include the following points in your plan:

  • Clarify the definition of what qualifies as a crisis
  • Put people in charge and delegate roles in managing the crisis 
  • Measure the metrics, like team capability and infrastructure readiness 

Don’t wait until a bad event happens. Prepare a plan of action so that everyone knows what they’re doing when an emergency hits.

2. Assess the Situation

Not all problems have the same solution. Acknowledge whether it’s categorized as a minor issue or if it can potentially lead to a more significant crisis. Use this information to create a suitable strategy to handle it. 

For example, JC Penney Teapot was reported on social media in 2013 because its design looked like Adolf Hitler. It’s a minor issue, so the company replied with light-hearted humor.

Meanwhile, humor shouldn’t be applied to a significant and serious case like Facebook’s security incident in 2018. An ethical and thorough explanation is more applicable and obligatory. 

3. Make a Timely Response

Fast response time matters when delivering a customer-centric service. With technology advanced, people expect immediate resolution of their concerns. 

Keep the response time within minutes or at least hours. Longer response time can be the reason why consumers won’t repurchase your product or service. Ensure your agents are aware of their responsibilities and fully compliant with the workflow.  

The first step to ensuring a timely response time is choosing web hosting for your website with at least 99% guaranteed uptime. Doing so will ensure your customers will be able to reach out to you as your site will still be online.

Secondly, consider creating response templates for frequently asked questions. Use automation tools, like Freshdesk and Zendesk, that enable real-time customer support across platforms, including email, chat, and social media. 

4. Be Accurate and Transparent

Having to correct yourself in public can damage your reputation and customer trust. 

Before communicating publicly, think carefully about the solution and how to deliver it to customers. Consumer-facing teams, like public relations and customer success, should never speculate the answers and provide accurate explanations to the customers right away. 

Transparency is key to building customer loyalty and trust. Consider sharing the events in detail if it helps to eliminate suspicions. 

5. Have an Automatic Callback

Automatic callback creates phone queues, so the customers don’t need to wait for their turn with the phone in their hands. The available agent will reconnect with them later instead.

Automatic callbacks improve the customer experience because many people don’t like to be put on hold. It also helps to lighten the customer’s good mood when speaking with your agents, especially when facing a severe crisis. 

6. Use Live Chat

Some prefer text-based communication, so providing a live chat is essential for your crisis management plan. 

Live chat software offers quick responses for customers and helps agents know relevant details, like the support history or the product information. AI chatbot even lets you provide 24/7 support. 

A live chat feature can be implemented on the homepage, FAQ pages, and social media. Make sure it’s accessible on both desktop and mobile. 

7. Post Updates on Social Media

Social media is an effective channel to deliver urgent news because many people use these platforms every day. Share updates about the crisis on your social media accounts immediately before people start sharing rumors or false information. 

Twitter can be a suitable platform to communicate updates since it has a news broadcast feature next to the timeline. Make use of the thread feature to give additional context and connect multiple Tweets. 

Suspend other marketing posts during a crisis because they might not go well with frustrated customers. 

8. Create a Post-incidence Plan

Analyze the crisis management performance after everything is settled, make public acknowledgment, and resolve the issue. 

Evaluate whether you had enough employees and the right tools to take care of the crisis effectively. Consider whether you made good communication efforts with the media.

See the customers’ comments on how you handled the problem. Make a note of what was handled well and what still needs improvement.  

After an incident, assess the risks and potential causes of the problem. Then, develop strategies to solve them so that you won’t repeat the same mistakes. 

For example, after the privacy scandal, Facebook took immediate action by applying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and confirmed data-sharing agreements. They always kept the users up-to-date, which helped them restore their reputation and customer trust. 

Conclusion

No one can forecast when a crisis will strike, but being prepared helps prevent your customers and team from panicking. Use these tips to start developing your crisis management plan and keep talking to your customers and internal stakeholders to suggest improvements. 

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