During a Crisis Communicate with Your Customers

Does your business have a contingency plan for when a crisis hits?

Specifically, if you had to quickly shutdown operations, do you have a plan in place to communicate the shutdown to your customers?

I ask this because a new vendor I’ve been working with – I’m the customer – has been problematic this month and owes me a chunk of money, and quite frankly, they’ve already made me pretty anxious due to their previous behavior. So, when a very important email I sent them on Friday went unanswered, the anxiety only got worse.

I sent a follow-up email this morning and finally got a response. In the message the person let me know that they had to shutdown their office on Friday due to the events in Boston.

First things first, what happened in Boston is beyond horrific and in no way do I mean to sound insensitive to the situation.

But guess what? I had NO clue the business was in the area impacted by the manhunt. Furthermore, I had NO clue they had to shutdown. In the real-time world we live in, this company, or any other in this situation could have easily:

  • Sent an email to customers
  • Tweeted the closing
  • Posted the closing to Facebook
  • Posted an update on their website
  • Put a new voice mail message on their customer service line

By not doing any of these steps you risk leaving your customers in the dark, which will increase their anxiety and eventually lead to frustration.

And yes, by all means, keeping employees safe should be a priority, but once people are out of danger you have to communicate the situation to customers, especially when you are providing a service.

A proper crisis contingency plan will help uncover, and fix, these sorts of issues and will prove to be wildly valuable when the unexpected happens.

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