How To Communicate Your Status In A Crisis (And Why)

Thinking about crisis management often starts off strategic and ends up going so far down the rabbit hole that you wind up planning for a zombie apocalypse. We know it’s not easy preparing for the worst – especially when it comes to your company’s image. You work endlessly to build a reputable brand, one that your customers trust and support. So even thinking about something going wrong is downright uncomfortable.

Whether the crises you’ve witnessed have followed this model or not, it’s all about transparency and authenticity. Otherwise, all your customers will jump off your ship as soon as it starts sinking – and trust us, it’s hard to recover after something like that. So, what’s the best way to handle it? Communicating your status in a crisis is a gamechanger for both your company and your customers.

Here’s how to do properly do it and why it’s so effective.

How: Keep Customers Informed

As a technical support organization, you should already be in close communication with your customers. They’re the first to know about product changes and new features, so why wouldn’t they be the first to know if a crisis comes along?

As soon as you realize something isn’t right, it’s only natural to want to keep it under wraps until it’s handled. You know the moment something gets leaked about the situation, it could spread faster than you have control over, so it’s up to you to make sure you are the “bearer of bad news,” even if it results in frustrated customers.

Bottom line – it’s better to hear from you that something is wrong and you’re working on fixing it than for a customer to discover an unresolved issue on his or her own.

Why: Increase customer approval rate

Again – transparency and authenticity. We’re all humans here, mistakes happen. You’ll have a much better chance of remaining on good terms with your customers if you are open and honest about the crisis.

Yes, something happened, here’s what it is, and here’s how we’re going to fix it. We’re truly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you, and we will continue to update you as we work toward a resolution.

Addressing the issue head-on shows that you’re willing to take responsibility, even if it means taking a hit to your profit or reputation. Customers will be more likely to appreciate the effort and honesty, as well as stick around through the crisis.

Note: In the world of technical support, a “crisis” might simply be a miscommunication or lack of communication, where customers were not made aware of product or feature changes. In this case, you can approach your response the same way, with transparency and authenticity.

How: Add A Space On Your Customer Support Page

One of the most effective and simple ways to document your status  (HelpScout does a good job of this) in a crisis is to post a note about it on your Customer Support page. Whenever something goes wrong, a customer’s first reaction is to reach out to support to find out two things: what exactly is going on and when it will be fixed.

When they land on the support page, both of those questions should be answered right off the bat. And when the customer sees that you not only are aware of the incident, but you are swiftly making an effort to resolve it, you build trust and creditably.

Why: Reduce support requests & save time

Normally, the time you spend answering support requests could easily deter you from focusing on resolving the crisis. But if you continue to post updates on the customer support page, more customers will rely on those updates rather than attempting to track you down with individual requests. AKA – less tedious work you have to do.

How: Put It In Writing

While carefully and strategically informing customers of a crisis is a top priority, informing your staff of the incident arguably carries just as much weight. There needs to be a formal documentation process in place, so your internal organization knows who to go to when a crisis arises – and how to handle it properly. Plus, putting the details of the crisis in writing allows you to 1) keep a paper trail of everything that has happened and 2) be able to communicate a clear and accurate message to your staff.

Why: Helps train staff

A critical part of crisis management? Ensuring everyone on your staff is on the same page and responds in the same way to customers. Putting your status in writing and sharing it with your internal support team not only makes them aware of what is going on, but it gives them content to refer to when answering those customer questions. And – heaven forbid if another crisis arises at a later date, your staff will have already been trained on how to handle it.

To learn more about managing your technical support team, check out how to implement technical support tiers.

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