In an age where social media posts can go viral within an hour, no brand is safe from a PR crisis. The role of the contact center is critical in ensuring that your brand message is consistently communicated across all channels and between your public relations team, marketing department, and your end customers.
Whether it’s a spokesperson scandal for an athletic retail brand, an E.Coli outbreak for a CPG company, or just a poor social media response to a customer concern, having a crisis plan in place is extremely important.
Below are four best practices and strategies used to prepare and assess the risks when the headline is you.
Do Your Homework
Assess the situation and measure how big the problem is. Is it an accusation or a public health concern? Is there validity behind it? Ensure you have a plan and that your legal team can be involved if needed. Always humanize the situation and create a genuine, company-wide response. A company that can be honest is attractive to their customer base.
Coach your team members to demonstrate empathy in their interactions during a sensitive time. It’s important to focus your team and customers back toward your company’s core values. By refocusing the conversation, your brand can create a boundary between the crisis and the values of your brand. How your message is formed is critical. It’s important to be honest/transparent and apologize, but act fast.
Contain, Control & Monitor
Containing the message and monitoring your social media channels is key. Ensure only your trained and informed team members are dealing with these sensitive calls and messages. In most PR instances, the volume will come in major spikes. Having a dedicated line to handle the volume will not only help control the message you want to send out, but you can do so in a much more timely manner. Also, ask yourself the following questions: Do you have a team ready to investigate when a crisis hits your brand? Do you have self service options for this?
In highly sensitive situations, like a data breach, operate from a place of transparency and educate your audience. Even the term ‘data breach’ is scary, you need to be able to openly break down what happened and what that means to your customer. It is also extremely important to have a process and training material ready, including messaging and communications for your team members so your brand can be accountable. Finally, automate your CRM or intranet access with communications on the crisis event that are mandatory prior to your team members logging in. This will help keep your message consistent while educating them on the issue and approved response before they start their shift.
Public relations responses can’t be done in isolation. Your organization needs your contact center teams, internal departments, and partners to all be on the same page. Be proactive and always have a plan in place. At the end of the day, your customers expect you to show them what your brand is doing or has done to prevent this crisis from happening again. If you commit to these best practices, you can turn any PR crisis into a more favorable situation for your company.