By Farzad Henareh, Director of Business Development at Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS
Our whole life is peppered with make or break moments: that important test you have to pass to get into university, the interview for your dream job, that one last talk with your better half to save the relationship or that moment when you have seriously disappointed your best friend. All of these moments bear a huge amount of potential for the future. In much the same way, at one point in their lifecycle, many brands experience a make or break moment in the form of a recall. As difficult as the situation may seem, all of these moments also bear the chance to emerge stronger and strengthen your position. It all depends on how you handle it.
The relationship with a customer is the most valuable asset for the success of a brand. The fact that customer loyalty continuously decreases in our time makes them even more valuable and emphasises the importance of a crisis well handled. So what can be done in a recall situation to keep your customers happy and continue their trust in your brand and products?
Having an emergency strategy in place is an invaluable tool to minimise chaos and quickly solve the issue. Ideally speak to someone who is experienced with these situations and can take an independent and unbiased look at the situation. This allows you to keep focused, it takes the guesswork out and reduces further risk factors. In a second step, communicate! Speak to your employees, partners, the public — trying to keep a recall under wraps never works and will definitely lead to reputational damage.
In fact, communication is a key element throughout the whole process. There is a need to keep those affected informed and eliminate concerns. Being transparent about the problem and openly communicating the consequences and your problem-solving approach, or corrective action plan, gives you more confidence in a difficult situation. This plan will need to be shared with the relevant authorities and will assure them that a brand/company is taking responsibility in protecting their customers with the right measures. It also shows your target audience that you are determined to resolve the situation in a professional and secure way.
Honesty is a crucial policy and justifies your customers trust in you. Involving your customers early makes them feel that their opinions and feelings are valued and gives you the chance to better evaluate the situation. Especially when keeping in mind our ever-connected modern world. The technology that now exists allows consumers to connect and communicate in real-time, with both positive and negative effects. It can help spread the story of a recall, and enhance the number of retrievals — or allow rumours to spread like wildfire. Companies have to demonstrate consideration and expertise in every step of a product life cycle, to ensure continuing trust in the quality of their products and services.
This shows that a recall does not necessarily have to be a make or break moment in a brand's lifecycle. A company failing to handle a recall successfully indeed risks seriously damaging the brand. However, companies that are prepared for the case, offering a comprehensive end-to-end solution that protects the customer experience and brand image will ultimately emerge stronger.