My plan to publish the last in a series of six crisis management posts was delayed by a mountain of work from my clients. But these things happen for a reason, and for this post, I have a great story of a moving company whose owner hasn’t the first clue about damage control.
About a week ago I moved cross town to a new condo in an eclectic neighborhood of Indianapolis. Planning for this move had been months in coming. I did my homework, shopped the Internet for local moving companies and found one that seemed a good fit. To be honest, the move went well until the moving team broke my headboard.
Minutes after the two-man team left, I began to unpack, starting with my bedroom. As I moved boxes and began to arrange furniture, to my surprise a large chunk of my headboard was missing. Either the moving boys dropped it and didn’t tell me. (That’s irritating!) Or, the load was shifted in the truck, which might have cause the damage. In any case, the moving company was liable.
Typically, local family-owned companies do the right thing and make good with customers when something goes wrong. But not this company owner. No. The owner met me a few days later and assessed the damage. This is when things turned ugly.
Managing a company brand is about doing the right thing when something goes wrong and a customer gets the short of it. But there are several other brand reputation recovery strategies:
- Denial: This is a typical finger-pointing strategy, where executives try to put the blame on someone or something else.
- Reducing impact: Executives employing this strategy will stress positive attributes of an event, try to minimize the seriousness of a crisis, do more finger pointing, or compensate those involved to shut them up.
- Corrective action: Executives understand and accept the gravity of the crisis and plan to solve the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.
The best and right strategy to take is the third one. Unfortunately, the moving company’s owner told me, “Well, my boys said they didn’t do that. Perhaps your girlfriend accidentally tipped it and broke it. Embarrassed of what she did, do you think she might blame my guys?”
He denied and put the blame elsewhere, which was a bad move. In our conversation, which became terse, I told him that would have been impossible. Then I told him the right thing to do is replace the headboard. But he would have none of that.
I don’t have to tell you that this made me mad and he tarnished his brand. I even told him so, but he refused to listen. We are now on the verge of meeting each other in small claims court.
What could have been resolved quickly through direct, swift corrective action followed by an apology will cost the moving company and me more money and resources we don’t have.
The best way to control damage and repair a brand image is to do the right thing. Restore the situation and the people involved to their rightful state before the crisis happened. Apologize. And set plans and procedures to prevent such calamities from occurring again.
About The Author: This is the sixth in a series of articles on issues management from our digital colleague, Rodger D. Johnson, who is a social media public relations counselor. He helps global companies, small businesses, and non-profits use public relations and social media strategies to strengthen brand equity. You can learn more about him at Get Social PR.
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