You have probably heard the old saying that “a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” But you may not have considered this: “A crisis can do half its damage before the crisis plan is even found!”
And every minute a crisis goes unmanaged, costs may be piling up.
For example—the longer your people go without clear guidance or worst wait to execute on your corporate crisis management plans , the more likely it is that your situation will escalate. And what if the instructions for shutting down a manufacturing line come too late? That expensive equipment could end up a total loss.
Also, the longer it takes to address a crisis, the longer it will take to end it. Which may mean more delays, and more lost revenue, before business can resume.
No matter what business you are in or what the crisis may be, you can be almost certain that a slow response will increase the cost of replacing, repairing, or rebuilding whatever has been damaged. That includes reputation—one of the most valuable and fragile assets owned by any organization. To prevent or repair reputation damage, organizations need to show that they not only responded to the crisis, but responded quickly.
Most crises will not attract public attention, of course. But even if there are no news stories or Twitter storms, your stakeholders (customers, suppliers, and employees) will definitely be concerned about how a crisis was handled. And the last thing you want them to be asking is “Why did it take so long?”
When it comes to the bottom line, a slow response to crisis can create both hard costs, in the form of unnecessary material damages, and soft costs, in the form of damaged relationships, lost business, and even lawsuits. Taken all together, these expenses could add a lot to the financial impact of a crisis.
The good news is that those costs risks can be avoided or at least minimized by making sure your crisis plan is actionable.
Here are a few things to consider:
1.) Think About Real TimeYour crisis plan needs to work in practice, not just in theory. Take another look at the plan and ask some new questions. For example: How long will it take for managers and employees to find their crisis instructions? How quickly will crisis communications be up and running? If possible, run some simulations or tests to get a more accurate assessment of response times. Check out this webinar for more about creating and testing actionable plans.
2.) Remove Speed BumpsTry to identify and eliminate unnecessary steps that will slow down crisis response. Also--any step that involves finding written materials or looking for something on a computer will cost precious time, so consider a solution that utilizes mobile devices. When crisis strikes, everyone needs to start moving as soon as possible, and with a mobile-based solution they can have access to information and instructions wherever they go.
3.) Adjust the Response TimelineRecovery begins when the crisis starts, not when it’s over! And that means reputation protection must start immediately. A good crisis plan should ensure that internal communications get top priority, but be careful not to neglect external communications. Here again, a mobile solution can make a big difference—for example, allowing your crisis team to quickly update the company website with important customer-facing information. Get more tips for reputation and crisis management from Forbes Online.
In many companies, a false sense of security has developed around the practice of crisis management. Although creating a plan and keeping it up to date are important steps, they are just steps, not the whole journey--and no matter how good the plan may be, it is not good enough unless it can be put into action quickly. Making your plan actionable is a best practice that can save money.
Do your people have access to your corporate crisis management plans if they needed it now? Would they clearly know how to execute their role in a response? It might be worth finding out.