Social media is such a great tool for PR practitioners and companies. It helps us to communicate with customers directly. We are able to engage with our publics and be able to have more interactive communication. It has helped companies like Safaricom to be able to deal with customer service issues. It is hard sometimes to get through to customer care on the telephone. Yet when you post something on twitter it is possible to get a response quickly, like with Safaricom within half an hour you have a reply. Social media is so WOW!
But what happens when there is a disaster or a mishap. And customers rant about how your company doesn’t care. Or how you are treating them badly. We have seen how Art Caffé got a bad reputation due to (alleged) issues of racism and croissants. Last weekend Kenya Airways had an incident in Greece where their plane had to make an emergency landing due to a fire warning indication in one of its cargo holds. Muthoni Ngonga updated her twitter TL on what was going on. Talk about exposing a company’s dirty linen in public.
So how do you deal with such an issue? I was reading a great article on corporate crisis mismanagement by the Economist. It talks about some of the things you should do when there is a crisis. These include: be visible, accept responsibility, just deal with the facts, be sensitive to the local environment. Check out the article here on Think before you speak on how to manage a crisis situation.
I was challenged the other day on how our organization would deal with such a crisis. It’s something that has got me thinking about strategies to deal with such a crisis. One of my friends a fellow PR practitioner said that the passengers should have been grateful that their plane landed without difficulties. Our customers don’t see things the same way. There are so many dynamics to such a situation and if you behave like your customers should be happy that things were not as bad as they could have been you will lose customers and lose brand credibility at the same time.
In Kenya social media use by PR practitioners and social media consultants for managing company reputation and image is still in the growing stages, in the teething phase you could say. In this era where the customer gets information easily on the internet it is important to take a proactive role in dealing with customer issues. Just because you have a PR strategy on how to deal with the situation doesn’t mean that it will work. We have to be careful how we treat customers and deal with each individual complaint. Otherwise the situation will come back to bite us with a bang. And many times on social media it becomes very hard to undo the damage once done.