Preparing for A Product Recall
Consumer products companies are fully aware of the possibility that one of their products could be the target of a product recall or some other unforeseen regulatory crisis circumstance. Even with this awareness, many consumer products companies do not have a proactive crisis management strategy in place. Rather, when a crisis strikes, the mad scramble commences.
Typically, a product recall requires informing the public. Inevitably, the influx of inquiries from concerned consumers begins and can overwhelm an ill-prepared consumer affairs department; particularly if it becomes a media event. To avoid potential calamity, consumer products companies should follow these best practices to mitigate risk should you find yourself in the crosshairs of a product recall.
Develop a Plan
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. The day one of your products is recalled is not the day to form a crisis management team. This should be put in place long before any issues arise, and the plan should be reviewed regularly.
When there is a product recall, things happen very quickly. Having a plan in place will allow everyone to jump into their designated roles and be equipped with the information that they need to handle the situation effectively. Your plan should include protocols for both internal and external communication. This means going over what employees should and should not say to the media and to customers.
During a recall, every employee is a potential PR representative. Some companies choose to limit the information that employees have and restrict important details to just a few key people. While this may feel like damage control, it usually results in customers calling and getting the wrong information or speaking with customer service representatives who don’t have all of the details. Instead, your goal should be to give your team everything they need to be transparent, consistent, and responsive.
Identify an External Partner
In the event of a very serious product recall, your company may find itself overwhelmed with media attention, customer complaints, phone calls, emails, and other customer inquiries. Having a trusted external partner to help with the sudden influx of customer inquiries may be essential.
You’ll have no time to scramble to find a suitable partner to handle customer inquiries while in the throes of a crisis. Having a vetted outsourced partnership established will help alleviate some of the stress that comes with a product recall. Part of being proactive and putting together a crisis management team is researching external partners that can help you in the case of an emergency. Stafford Communications is an excellent resource for outsourcing these types of services.
Establish a Dedicated Crisis Number
When there is a product recall, customers want answers. They want to know how serious the issue is. They want to know if they will get their money back. They want to know how soon they will get their money back. They also want you to understand how inconvenient and upsetting the recall is. This means you will be getting a lot of phone calls in a short amount of time. Instead of overwhelming your standard consumer support telephone number, consider setting up a dedicated crisis number.
Share this phone number on social media, in your press release, and within your email marketing campaigns, so that concerned customers can connect with the crisis management team directly. You can redirect calls crisis calls from your standard number to the dedicated crisis line as well.
Use an IVR and Your Website
While you are inundated with questions and concerns regarding the recall, it will be hard for your team to answer every customer complaint or concern promptly. Establishing an Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) will allow you to pre-record crisis information so that all consumers can get accurate and up-to-date information when they call. Your recorded message can address commonly asked questions, which can reduce the number of calls that are directed to live customer service agents.
Depending on the severity of the recall, consumers will be anxious about new information. Using your website to keep them updated may help alleviate the tension and reduce load on your call center. Consider implementing a recall information page on your website so that consumers know exactly where to look for updated information.
Stafford Communications Can Help During A Recall
Part of your crisis management plan during a product recall should include connecting with an external partner to help you manage the influx of questions, concerns, and inquiries. Stafford Communications is experienced with and trained for this type of crisis management. We can help you put a plan in place to ensure that, in the event of a product recall, you will be equipped with the resources and personnel necessary to handle the situation.
Contact us today for more information.