If you live in California, you more than likely have an earthquake plan. In other parts of the country, you probably prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, or ice storms. But if you have a business, are you prepared for a crisis? If not, why—especially when one incident could derail your entire company?
Having a crisis plan for your business is good business.
Do you have employees/executives who are media-trained? This will be more than just your PR person. A “talking head” might work in the first few hours, but as the “disaster” progresses, you’ll need subject-matter experts—people who can actually speak to the issue, who have authority and will take responsibility.
When disaster strikes, whether it involves tainted food or faulty products, an explosion, or even fraud within the company, just remember the four As:
- Acknowledge the issue factually, without speculation.
- “We’ve discovered contaminants in Product X made from January to July 2020, and have reports that some customers may have gotten ill.”
- “There has been a gas leak that is impacting the Redwood Hills subdivision of Walnut Creek.”
- “We have learned that some of our customers’ private information was compromised the week before Christmas, impacting approximately 25,000 cardholders.”
- Accept responsibility (even if you don’t yet know the cause).
- “We have very strict quality standards and this is unacceptable.”
- “The safety of our employees and the community is our No. 1 priority and we are working with first responders to mitigate any further risk.”
- “Your financial privacy is paramount to us, we have ‘plugged the leak’ and want to regain your trust.”
- Assure that you are “on it.”
- “We have shut down production at that facility and are investigating the cause. Production will not resume until we are 100% certain there is no longer any issue.”
- “As soon as the area is safe, we will be conducting a thorough investigation and will expand that to ensure our other lines do not have the potential for a similar leak.”
- “We discovered the hack within 24 hours, using a firewall software, and have prevented any further data from being leaked. We will be contacting those cardholders who have been impacted to provide identify theft protection for the next 18 months.”
- Act: Do what you said you were going to do.
- “After thorough investigation, we discovered the contamination was a result of one of our suppliers and we have ceased our relationship with that company. In addition, all the products suspected of contamination have been removed from the shelves.”
- “After conducting our investigation, we discovered construction work at that site ruptured an old pipe. We have gone through our system to identify old pipes for replacement and better mark those pipes on the surface to prevent this from happening elsewhere, until they are replaced.”
- “For the last three months, cybersecurity experts have helped us in identifying any further weaknesses. We are working closely with SuperDuper FireWall to prevent this from happening in the future. And we have learned that, though data was compromised, very few customers have experienced any identity theft. All impacted customers have been offered identity theft protection for the next three years at no cost to them.”
Having a crisis plan for your business is good business. Ideally, you would never need it. But when you do, you don’t have time to start creating documents, preparing people, and lining up experts. In this day and age, you need to be able to turn on a dime. Your reputation, your company’s reputation, and the health of your company is on the line.
Don’t wait for a disaster to prepare an action plan. Get ready today.