Organizations face many competing priorities and demands for their resources. But in the wake of the pandemic, the importance of resilience has come first on the minds of many business leaders.
Everyone understands that a company’s ability to respond effectively to a crisis is key to its long-term survival. In the past, it was understood that companies focused more on preventing a crisis rather than preparing for and responding to a potential crisis.
Very few companies kept thinking about what they would do in the event of a crisis. How will they respond? Who should be notified? What will they tell customers? How can they reduce the effects?
Building business resilience means ensuring that you are prepared to respond effectively to a crisis. In addition to the financial, reputation and business impacts, a crisis can cause significant emotional distress to employees at all levels, particularly those dealing with frontline customers.
The solution to mitigate these effects is a thorough preparation. Only companies that have experienced a sudden crisis know how many decisions need to be made so quickly and how much impact they will have. Any crisis is always a shock to business, but the speed of decision required and the complexity of managing every aspect of the response is often an even bigger surprise.
Four factors for crisis planning
1. Make sure the customer/employee contact information is accurate
Fast communication with customers and employees is an essential first step in any crisis. People quickly need to know what happened and how it affects them. To prepare, make sure you know where customer, employee, and other contact data is stored — and keep it up to date.
2. Create customer facing notice templates
You must react quickly and efficiently to distribute notifications to those affected. Before any incident occurs, decide who needs to know and how you will inform them. You need to make sure that you communicate with them in the ways they prefer, and tell them everything they need to know. Preparing templates in advance saves time and simplifies the process in the event of a crisis.
3. Find out what the call center experts will say
Customers and employees are likely to have a lot of questions when they are affected by a crisis. Pre-identifying frequently asked questions (FAQs) means your call center agents are well prepared to respond appropriately. If you have compiled a set of answers to common questions beforehand, you can add more questions specific to the scenario at the time of the accident. You will also understand in advance what level of call center support you will need and how to reach it in a short time.
4. Managing and keeping stakeholders informed
Once you start the direct response, you’ll need to keep your multiple stakeholders informed of what’s going on. If you respond well to the crisis, you will maintain the trust of your stakeholders and retain customer goodwill – which is ultimately vital to the survival of your business.
Benefits of preparing for crises
With critical thinking and some decision-making beforehand, a lot of stress is taken away when you’re in the midst of a storm. You simply trigger a pre-planned response action, rather than having to make decisions on a hoof in the midst of a crisis. This is good for the well-being of your decision makers, as well as for the effectiveness of the response.
Planning the messages you want to convey to affected parties and the channels they will use, as well as having communications ready for deployment, enables you to manage customer expectations more effectively. By keeping customers well informed at the right time, you skew many of the incoming inquiries and generate positive feelings of confidence about your business – demonstrating your expertise and competence in dealing with the unexpected.
All this adds up to a flexible business that is ready to handle any crisis with calm, confidence and professionalism.