Product recalls, defects, and unkept promises can significantly damage a company’s reputation. Even well-respected companies face these challenges, such as Toyota and its recalls due to deadly brake and airbag defects, and Samsung and its Note 7 overheated and caught fire.
How a company responds to a crisis can make or break the situation. During an emergency, consumers usually ask these questions:
- Is this information accurate about the product?
- Who is responsible? Is it the company, the user, or someone in the supply chain?
- Was the company negligent? Did they hide this information intentionally?
- Does this company have a history of negligence or poor decision-making?
It would help if you were sensitive to the consumer’s perspective. Something that may seem minor to you may be perceived by consumers as a horrible event, especially if the media takes a great interest in the issue. In addition, certain advocacy groups could take an interest in the matter and attack your company and leadership. Be careful to never underestimate or downplay a crisis without considering how it may be viewed in the eyes of the public.
The long-term reputation of your brand will be critical during a crisis. If a consumer has had good experiences with your company in the past or has seen positive media coverage, they may be more likely to give you some credit—or even a second chance. A good reputation can make recovering from a crisis easier, but you still need to do the right thing.
Honesty remains the best policy. If you made a mistake, admit it. Come clean and share what happened, why, and what you’re going to do to keep it from happening again. Transparency will always produce better results than if you try to cover up or downplay the issue.
However, when and where it’s appropriate, defend your company. If the media and others are not considering specific facts that you think are relevant, share them, and make sure your perspective is known.
During the crisis, your focus should be protecting and restoring the long-term image of your company. Correcting your vision may take time and incredible amounts of hard work if the problem is complicated. But it can be done. After the Toyota recalls, the company launched a campaign apologizing for the incident and reassuring customers that Toyota’s commitment to excellence was more vital than ever. This resonated with customers because Toyota had such a strong image before the recalls.
If your brand is struggling to recover from a crisis, you may want to talk to a professional communications firm for help. Tucker/Hall equips clients with strategies and tools to recover from any situation. Contact us for more information.