Chris: Woah! What a disaster!
Matt: That was a disaster, wasn’t it. Who’d have thought we’d have an earthquake right at the start of another Monkey Monday.
Chris: Yeah, it was real.
Matt: That’s what we’re here to talk about today. Why we are here, messing up our words. It is how to manage a branding disaster.
Chris: Wow, so what is a brand disaster, Matt?
Matt: Well, it could be lots of things, I guess. It’s fairly self-explanatory, it’s basically a situation that has occurred where it’s damaged perception, perception of you as a company, perception of your product, perception of your service, something that where people expect something to happen, and all of a sudden their expectation has been radically altered.
Chris: Yeah, maybe you’re not sending products out that people have bought online for some reason, maybe your email server’s down.
Matt: Perhaps some products have gone out and they’ve all been really bad and you’ve had to recall them. For instance, we’ve all experienced that feeling of buyer’s remorse when you buy something and you’re a bit worried about getting it, how is it going to come?
If it doesn’t come as you expect, even that could be seen as a brand disaster, if it really doesn’t meet their expectations. All of this is going to lead to not really getting good endorsement, you’re not going to get brand ambassadors, and you may lose brand ambassadors as well, if the situation is particularly bad.
Chris: Okay, so why would you manage your brand disaster then? Going into detail in those things.
Matt: Well the first thing it will do, hopefully, if you manage it well, it should reduce bad reviews. You’re not going to probably be able to get rid of all of them, but by following some steps down here, you might be able to mitigate the amount of bad reviews you’re going to get.
Chris: Yep, and it will improve customer engagement and happiness. I mean, I’ve bought something in the past and it went horribly wrong online, but I received a letter, and a gift afterwards, even that not prompted by an angry email, they just sent it saying, ‘We were a bit rubbish, sorry about that, here’s this thing,’ and actually I bought something from them afterwards, a couple of years later, so it helps retain those clients.
Matt: Yep, and it can actually improve relations with press as well. There’s lots of different ways of acting around a brand disaster. You can kind of bury your head in the sand, the press can pick this up, you can ignore them, or you could almost go to the press straightaway and say, ‘Hey, look, we’re having problems, can you help us get our story out there?’ And it will help you control the story, and help you communicate to everybody what’s going on.
Chris: Yeah, personally, I think you only know how good a company is after you’ve experienced one of these things and you know how they react.
Matt: And look, all companies are gonna have problems, everybody does, and actually part of companies growing and improving means that they’re gonna hit bumps in the road, there are gonna be things that have gone wrong. It’s the measure of a brand and a company as to how they deal with those things. And how do they deal with those things, Chris?
Chris: Well, you do these things that we’ve done with some of our clients. We’ve helped them along the road. So the first one would be release an authentic (underlined) letter from the top.
Matt: It’s important because it should be authentic. It should be honest, and it should do a handful of things, really. It should explain why the disaster has happened, and it should hopefully try and give an indication of when the disaster would be finished by. So, a good example might be that you are having problems with a new system perhaps, but you’ve brought that new system in to improve your overall service. So through communicating and saying, ‘Look, we really want to make sure that - I dunno - we used to deliver things and it used to take us three days, but now we wanna make, we’re trying to put systems in place that mean we can deliver the next day.’ So explaining that you’ve brought something in, it’s causing problems, actually now stuff’s going out seven days, but once we get the system working properly it will improve our overall service to you. And apologising, as well, is very important. So this authentic letter, preferably from someone at the very top of the organisation, that talks directly to the customers, as an open letter, that can be referred back to from your customer relations team, and everything like that, is a key tool to help maintain those good relations.
Chris: Yeah, and your customers will know then that this is more likely to be a one-off occurrence, and you’ve actually addressed it rather than just swept it under the carpet somewhere.
Matt: Yeah, and resource your customer service. So if you know that something’s gone wrong, you know that there’s going to be extra phone calls with people complaining, or people complaining online that you need to react to, resource them, make sure they can do this quickly. Because even that customer service then needs to be as great as it can be. And you should go down into really fine detail here, and make sure that every review is answered online, and that the tone of voice is looked at as well. So this brings us to the next bit really. In all of those complaints, make sure they’re answered, that you’ve apologised, and sometimes maybe some compensation may even be in order if you’ve really damaged a customer. Your customers will destroy you if you do not properly look after them. It’s all about maintaining your brand. So, answer, apologise and compensate. And then we move to focus and fix.
Chris: Yeah, focus and fix. You’ve underlined both of those.
Matt: I have underlined both of those.
Matt: It’s just really important. Imagine you are, or have been, let down by a brand in some way, or a brand has done something that you think is really bad. I dunno, maybe your oil tanker has spilled oil all over a beach somewhere. It’s very important that your customers, and your suppliers, and everybody who connects with your brand, see that this is your entire focus now. If you then at the same time as this kind of horror show, the earthquake is happening around them, if at that point you’re doing things like, ‘Hey, I’m releasing a new product over here,’ or spending all this money on a trade show, or doing something that isn’t focused on their issue, then they’re gonna feel really neglected and left out. So drop everything else, anything that’s being planned to be released or any new service, or anything like that, stop it until it’s fixed, and until you’re happy. After that, release what you’ve learned. Explain that the problem is over, and communicate really well, thanking them for their patience, thanking for the amazing support you’ve had from your customer service team, from all of your loyal customers, and say, ‘We have now reached this point, and this is what we’ve learned, and this is what we’re going to concentrate on next. Then at that point, that's when you can go, ‘Hey, here’s some shiny new products,’ or ‘here’s the next thing we’re working on,’ and (touch wood) you’ve learned enough for those next releases not to cause the next earthquake.
Matt: Oh, it’s coming! It’s coming! That was us!
Chris: We better get out of here! Good luck with your disaster!