by Alisha Shibli
As a business owner, you don’t start a business thinking about a crisis. The prime objective is to build a product that exceeds all expectations and thrives in its industry. However, being well-prepared is better than being taken by surprise.
During the economic crisis, some businesses hadn’t fathomed how difficult it would get to keep going. The ones who had a plan survived and the ones who were clueless had to close up shop.
Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Knowing how to manage your product in a time of crisis can be a great strength considering the volatile nature of the economy. In this article, we look at what a crisis means and how a small business, such as yours, can prepare for it.
What does a crisis mean?
A crisis is defined as an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending. Crises such as the theft of data, the death of a CEO, a fire on the premises, a terrorist attack, natural calamities, workplace violence, or a pandemic can result in a decrease in revenue, the loss of valuable customers, and a possible negative blow to the reputation of the company.
How do you manage a crisis?
Managing the crisis boils down to having a plan in place to deal with difficult situations that pose a threat to the organization’s long-term survival. It involves listing out all the steps to prevent, assess, manage, and resolve the crises with a structured approach.
Listed below are 11 tips to manage your product and overall business in a time of crisis.
1. Prepare a crisis management plan
The adage “prevention is better than a cure” is popular for a reason. Consider creating a crisis management plan for your company that details the procedures to be followed, the roles and responsibilities of employees, and the details of all-important contacts.
The crisis management team should not only be able to manage the situation at hand, but also assess the potential risks and impacts.
Your vigilance in a crisis will ensure the continuity of business operations and gain the trust and confidence of customers and stakeholders in your organization. A good practice would be to keep evaluating and updating your crisis plan for the future.
2. Have a back-up domain name (just in case)
Crisis doesn’t always mean a natural calamity or a pandemic (in case of 2020). Sometimes it could be cyber-attack for example Brandjacking. This is when another individual or group entity assumes your brand’s online identity in a way that is indiscernible to others.
In an event where your domain name gets hijacked, it’s better to have a back-up ready. While you resolve the crisis, your customers can continue doing business with you on this new domain name. A cool trick here would be to pick a different domain extension. For example, if your earlier domain was www.[businessname].site, then the backup domain name could be www.[businessname].online.
3. Set-up a clear social media policy
Online conflicts have become common nowadays, with an increasing number of people using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as avenues to share their experiences, opinions, and feedback.
You can avoid or manage social media crises by establishing clear practices and policies for your organization. Set networking and communication principles relating to language, tone, and words used by your team that’s interacting on social platforms on behalf of your organization.
This will help you build a positive reputation for your brand and in a time of crisis, this credibility will play a crucial role in how your customers perceive you and how much they trust you.
4. Be quick in responding to your customers
The more you delay, the more the situation can get out of hand. For example—an angry Air Europa passenger posted a negative tweet about the airline’s bad service. Air Europa ignored the tweet and later had to face the outrage of many people who joined the distressed passenger in her complaint. An honest apology or a convincing explanation at the outset would have averted this crisis.
A good practice would be to create a web page for your company such as www.buyleather.store/latest-updates and promote this through email and on your social channels. Update this page regularly with all necessary information.
5. Connect with your customers
If there was a time to truly understand and value the connection you build with your customers, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic. Managing your business and products has become a matter of concern for all business owners during these highly uncertain circumstances. The drastic alteration in the purchasing behaviors of customers has led to radical changes in the way business is conducted.
Your crisis management plan needs to pay more attention to customer retention as opposed to acquisition. Formulate messages that inform your customers about the steps that you’re taking to maintain stability. For example, in case of brandjacking, you can share the new domain name with your customers while you fix the problem with the old one.
Be empathetic, pay attention to their needs, and redesign business policies to strengthen your relationship with them.
6. Execute an elastic pricing model to increase revenues
Formulate short term strategic plans to offer flexible pricing models on your products. In a time of crisis, the focus should be on increasing short term margins or profitability and maintaining cash flow, rather than obtaining the long-term goals of the business. Hence, consider offering your products at a price that buyers want to pay rather than what you want them to pay.
7. Be transparent and set the right expectations
If your business has taken a hit and if you’re not able to deliver a product or service, then let your customers know. Or if you have to increase the price of a product then ensure that this information is clearly communicated.
Set the right expectations on the features, price, delivery, and availability of products. This is important especially for small businesses that do not have all the resources and manpower easily available to manufacture or deliver products in a time of crisis.
8. Optimize resources and confirm the continuity of supply from vendors
In an unsure environment, use your current assets and resources judiciously to get the best out of them. Ensure that you maintain sufficient stock of your products to cater to the demands of your loyal customers.
While big businesses have the leverage to maintain buffer stocks, small businesses have to be mindful of day-to-day supplies to avoid losing their customers to competitors. Having a plan in place can keep you prepared for situations such as these.
9. Employ strategic marketing and advertising practices
Your marketing team can play a significant role in managing your product during a crisis. Re-define your marketing and advertising practices to carefully promote your product in the market.
Depending on the product and the situation, launch special promotions and sale schemes (such as discounts, free offers, etc.) and provide exceptional customer service to increase consumer demand in the market.
10. Take care of your employees
Your employees are your greatest asset, even more so in a crisis. Apart from your customers, do not forget to take good care of your employees and keep them safe (specifically during the present Covid-19 crisis). Encourage transparent and open communication with them to prove that you care for them. Give your team the necessary resources that allow them to perform to the best of their abilities.
11. Stay calm
Last but not the least, try not to panic and to stay calm in a time of crisis. Control what you can, make the right decisions keeping in mind the best interests of your customers, employees, and stakeholders. Try to spread optimism through your positive actions. With a good plan and lots of zeal, your organization will be able to sail through even the most turbulent crises.
The rising volatility of global events has forced companies to equip themselves to deal with impending radical changes in conducting business. It is a practical fact that you cannot completely avoid a crisis, but by taking appropriate and timely steps, you can manage it and lessen its day-to-day impact.