Crisis Management for Dummies

Or how small businesses get the jump on global corporations

“Crisis management” is often the label given to a brands’ very public faux pas and how they handle it. Reputational damage can have an extremely serious impact on your bottom line and the future security of your business.

However, instead of the usual apology and hoping to wait out a crisis, big brands are now electing to face past mistakes head on. Volkswagen have dug up their emissions scandal from a few years ago as part of an aggressive push on their electric models. Carlsberg have finally admitted that theirs was probably not the best lager in the world, and replaced it with a Danish pilsner (that’s a lager with a stronger hop taste for the uninitiated).’

What these campaigns have in common is an attempt to personalise the brands. To err is human and our brand f**ked up. We are not just corporate money-making machines, we are a brand you can relate to. We made mistakes but we held up our hands and worked hard to improve things for you, the consumer.

Lessons for small businesses

For microbusinesses and SMEs, these giant marketing campaigns may seem irrelevant because of their scale. However, they do demonstrate that the people with the big bucks are investing heavily in their reputations.

Small businesses therefore have the scales tipped in their favour already. The chances are that you know a some of your clients by name. Regulars can easily become friends. Those that you don’t know can still be made to feel welcome and at ease on an individual basis – by good customer service delivered in person, or thoughtful touches if delivered remotely.

We are seeing tidal shifts in how people interact with the High Street. Trends away from retail and towards experience are becoming clear. So make sure that your business makes itself stand out by providing customers with the very best service. Listen to their comments and complaints and make sure you act on them. Make sure that your company shows off what makes it genuine and honest – on your website, your social media, in your printed material.

A small business can have a big personality

It may cost millions to try and give a million customers a tailored experience, but it costs relatively little to reach out to just a few hundred. Value what makes your customers unique and they might just do the same for you.

Crisis management for a small business may be treading delicately through a heavy criticism on social media. It may be ensuring your team are trained to deal sympathetically with customers from all backgrounds.

For advice on customer relationship management for SMEs, contact Thirst Media.

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