Contrary to popular belief that an organization's reputation cannot be maintained after a product recall, knowing the right ways to deal with it can help minimize the damage to your business. There are many brands who have recalled their products and are still going strong.
The impact of a product recall is totally dependent on the way you handle it. It is advisable that you hire a professional PR agency to look after the crisis communication. Dealing with product recall is possible. However, it needs to be handled in a strategic way. Here are a few good crisis management tactics to deal with the situation.
Suppose you are a pharmacy company that has just come to know that one of the consignments can pose a threat to the life of patients. Don't waste time pondering over how to tackle the problem. It is necessary that you make an announcement, and take affirmative action immediately to stop it from affecting the lives of others.
Contact Your Customers
Suppose you have sold an high-end car which has a certain faulty part in it. You will have to acquire the list of people who have bought the car from the faulty line. You will then have to contact them personally to convey your concern about the car. Show them the necessary proof, and replace the part within a certain time frame. In most cases, showing such awareness about the customer will only add to your reputation.
Stop the Usage, At Once
The moment you come to know that the product will pose a threat to public safety or is sub-par in some way, recall it from the distributors immediately. Stop the sale of the product with immediate effect, or put a notice on its rack saying that it has been recalled. Ideally, just call all the cans, crates, boxes, bottles, etc., back to the factory.
Inform the Employees
Don't allow the recall of your product to become an issue for speculation about the market standing and goodwill of the company. During such a crisis, it is important that the employees are informed about the issue at hand and are educated to stop spreading rumors about it. Once the employee regains his trust in his company, he spreads the right words and portrays a positive image for the organization. With social media becoming a dominant communication medium, it will only benefit you to keep the employees "in loop." Ask your chairman or spokesperson to address them in a public meeting.
Hire an Excellent PR Agency
You would require the help of a professional PR agency that is adept at crisis communication management. Such an agency knows exactly what to communicate and how to do it. It will tap in all its online and offline resources to provide 360 degrees of communication so that the message reaches all who may face a potential danger from the recalled product. Strategic crisis communication not only helps in damage control, but eventually helps you in rebuilding your reputation.
Put Up Notices
Apart from tapping all means of communication to reach out to customers who have bought the recalled products, put up notices at highly visible locations. This will help alert them, as well as avoid others from buying the product.
Don't Wait for Government Intervention
If you are going to wait for government intervention to inform the public about the recalled products, it will be a big mistake. Such processes often take a long time to complete. By that time, people will use your defective product and get injured or fall sick. It may even cause death. Hence, as soon as you come to know about the faulty product, make an announcement.
Be a Good Listener
If there are people who have been affected by the use of the defective product and they approach you, do make it a point to listen to them patiently. Show them your support and concern. Providing medical care and monetary help is one way of helping with the crisis. If you deny your fault, it is only going to add fuel to the fire.
Acknowledge Folly, Accept Mistakes
You will face severe backlash if you try to shrug the issue and show reluctance in accepting your mistake. Don't do this, as it will only aggravate public outcry. Instead of getting defensive, be transparent about the facts, and accept your mistake publicly. This will cause the public to believe your part of the story.
Investigate the Cause
Hire an external QC to understand where the problem has emerged, and take the necessary corrective actions to avoid such debacles in future. Reprimand and take a stern action against employees who allowed such a mistake to take place.
Have a Recall Policy and Process
Many companies do not have a recall policy and process in place. Hence, they find it extremely difficult to deal with it when the situation arrives. Learn from the experience of your product recall, and have a proper policy and process in place.
Make Your Quality Check Stronger
After one incident of product recall, don't give an opportunity for another one to arise. Try to nip the problem in the bud by making your quality control stronger. Try to implement various quality standards and follow the stringent rules levied by them.
Crisis Communication Policy
If you are experiencing such crisis communication for the first time, you will not be prepared to deal with it. Have a core group who will provide help during the crisis, if it arises again.
One of the good crisis management tactics to deal with product recall is to utilize online and offline media to reach out to people. Let them know that you feel responsible for the damage and are going to do everything in your capacity to bring relief to them.