Heartbleed, the bug that exposed users’ private data such as usernames and passwords for as long as two years, was an eye opening experience for businesses across the board. It made us evaluate online security efforts, but more importantly, how businesses need to be prepared to communicate with customers during a crisis. While the media (understandably) became everyone’s information source on how to protect themselves, the only place that wasn’t covered with Heartbleed was where it mattered most: your inbox.
Whether it was email, SMS or even voicemail, we found customers received minimal if any direct communication from even the most trusted brands – even those know for delivering a great customer experience. Whether the business was affected or not, how a company responds to a crisis can solidify or shatter customer loyalty. During times of crisis, companies need to remember the customer PACT:
- Prepare – brainstorm several crises the business can face and develop a plan for each.
- Act – silence can still signal that the business doesn’t value the customer’s loyalty, but proactive communication and sticking to the facts speaks volumes.
- Comprehensive & cohesive – a crisis tests a business’ multi-channel customer experience, so be ready to reach customers on email, phone, web and social media.
- Transparent – a crisis is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep in touch with customers until the crisis has passed.
Building, strengthening and keeping customer loyalty may be one of the hardest challenges, but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding once achieved. If the business is swift, proactive and sticks to the customer experience PACT, companies can navigate the crisis and preserve their customers’ trust.