By Farzad Henareh, Managing Director UK & Europe, Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS

Are you aware of recall fatigue? This is the term given when many recalled products never get returned or disposed of. Initiating a recall and communicating to consumers the importance of returning faulty products is not an easy process. Knowing about some of the best practices for conveying this message before it affects you could greatly reduce the impact of a recall, and may even improve brand reputation.

Return response rates depend on factors including: how easy the product fix is, how the customer is contacted and how many times, the value of the product (cheaper ones tend to get thrown out, not returned), what the notification recall envelope looks like, what season the product gets recalled in and how great the risk of harm is.

Here are some tips for manufacturers to help ensure better return rates:

· Where possible, start with a good customer database. In the event of a recall, it’s critical that manufacturers and retailers are able to contact impacted consumers. Loyalty and warranty programmes can help to build solid customer databases

· During the notification process, try to engage consumers to address concerns and convey important return details. A live interaction, whether on social media or over the phone, can turn a negative customer experience into a positive one and strengthen the relationship

· To broadcast the recall to a wider audience and increase awareness distribute a press release with all of the pertinent information to encourage media to get the news out

· Offer impacted consumers a reward, such as coupons or discounts, for coming into the store to make a return

· Contact consumers where they live online. Use social media and text messaging

· Work with a recall partner to get notifications out, have extra representatives available to handle inbound customer questions via chat or phone, and track response rates — be accessible 24/7

· Don’t let your business as usual suffer — this can be a costly distraction in terms of efficiency and, consequently, financially. An effective plan should be in place before a recall to ensure there is minimal disruption to staff day-to-day activities

Consumer recall notification is the first necessary step in the process of removing products from the marketplace. Recall experts, who communicate with consumers on a daily basis, know how to effectively reach them with a message that will motivate consumers to return or dispose of the affected product. However, they also understand that consumers react differently when faced with a food recall, as opposed to a consumer goods recall. Therefore, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that works across all markets; their approach must be tailored.

Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb, multiple follow up notifications and phone calls to consumers are often needed to satisfy regulatory bodies and maximise the return rate of products. It can also be especially difficult to get consumers to engage when products are out of season. If an item of clothing that was popular in the winter is suddenly recalled in the height of summer, fewer consumers will be motivated to return it. However, follow-ups are a necessary part of the procedure in illustrating a manufacturer’s commitment to safety and legal regulations.

Recall experts can also provide surge support for manufacturers facing a large or complex recall. They can do this by moving quickly to coordinate with consumers and regulatory bodies while handling the reverse logistics required to remove products from the marketplace. This timely and compliant execution can reduce liability for manufacturers stemming from regulatory fines or personal injury lawsuits. Recall experts are also able to adjust their communications infrastructure to deal with crises at short notice. This ensures that consumers have a constant means of communicating with the business. Whether it’s online, or via a contact centre, there is always someone who can respond to their demands.

Without a fixed plan in place, trying to successfully issue a recall can be draining and damaging. It’s the companies that are recall ready and act quickly to avoid safety issues, which will avoid a long road of litigation and consumer distrust.