How to Keep Your Customers’ Trust during a PR Crisis
When the poop hits the fan and you find your company smack dab in the middle of a PR crisis, one of your biggest concerns is that you’ll lose your customers. You’re afraid that your customers will lose trust in your company and stop doing business with you. And that’s certainly a reasonable concern. It’s a fate that has happened to way too many businesses to list.
But just because your company is in trouble doesn’t mean that you have to lose your customers. You can salvage things and maintain their trust if you act correctly.
Address the situation quickly — You can’t bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. It won’t, or if it does eventually go away, the damage will be too great for you to recover. You have to address the situation in a timely manner. Show your customers that you’re on top of it. Be upfront about your issues and provide answers before the media and your critics even ask the questions. You have to do the communicating, or else someone else will do it for you. And you won’t like what they have to say.
Never lie — Want to ensure that people never trust you again? Lie to them. Look, I’m not even trying to come to you from a moral high ground here. It’s not even about that. Lying is just plain stupid. You will eventually get caught, and when the truth comes out, the damage will be far worse than if you’d just told the truth.
Communicate through as many channels as possible — Your customers are everywhere, and it’s not enough to just release a statement on your website addressing the situation. You need to communicate through as many channels as you can — websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, TV, radio, etc. This will ensure your message gets heard, and it helps you dominate the conversation.
Don’t make the same mistake twice — People are generally forgiving by nature. They understand that mistakes happen, and they can accept that. What they can’t accept is you making the same mistakes over and over again. Whatever it was that went wrong, you have to address it, learn from it, and take every step necessary to ensure it never happens again.
Has your company ever gone through a major crisis? How did you handle the situation?