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Having an effective crisis management plan may not be top of your mind when it comes to running your business and ensuring strong quarterly returns.

Yet, preparing for unplannable events and corporate slip-ups – even if you don’t want to believe they’ll ever happen – is one of the most important things you can do to secure your company’s health and prosperity.

Our trusty guide will take you through the intricacies of crisis management and how important it is. Keep reading to gain all the knowledge you need to put together a solid plan to safeguard your company’s success.

What is a crisis?

In business terms, a crisis is any event that may threaten the success and health of your company. 

Crises may be financial, organisational, technological, natural, or related to your staff. Consider the following examples:

  • A reduced desire or need for your product or service
  • Staff involved in unethical or illegal behaviour
  • Important information kept from customers
  • Software crashes
  • Tsunami, hurricanes, or any other natural disaster
  • Product recall
  • Stolen data
  • False accusation
  • C-suite staff leaving

Maybe, the slip-up of a top executive has gone viral, for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps you’ve taken your business international, but things didn’t go as planned.

Whatever it may be, you need to have a crisis management plan in place to fall back on.

What is a crisis management plan?

A crisis management plan is a document that contains all the steps and procedures you need to put in place in the event of a crisis happening at your company. 

Crisis plans have two ultimate goals: to get operations back to normal as fast as possible, and to minimise any lasting damage to the company’s reputation and assets.

In other words, crisis management requires anticipating the probability of risks and having an emergency response in place to deal with them.

One of the most crucial aspects of a crisis management plan is solid and ongoing communications. Services such as those provided by Vonage will be very useful to this effect, as they enable seamless and remote communication that allows you to keep everyone up-to-date at all times.

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When implemented correctly, a successful crisis management plan will potentially see you do even better than before the crisis. Through in-depth analysis and evaluation, you may learn from your mistakes and enact bold decisions that improve your company’s health beyond pre-crisis levels.

On such fortuitous occasions, you might even be in the enviable position of needing to hire more people than ever. For that purpose, a high volume hiring software will allow you to efficiently bolster your workforce.

Why is it important to have a good crisis management plan?

Before we dive into technicalities, it can be interesting to consider the benefits of a good crisis management plan.

A good crisis management plan can be the difference between your company succeeding and failing at handling a crisis, both during its course and in the aftermath. Planning and accounting for risks and their consequences means that in the moment, you’ll have a clearer head and a firm strategy for charting your company through choppy waters.

In fact, such a plan should be part of wider workplace policies that outline the corporate response to different scenarios.

Bear in mind that 69% of business leaders experienced at least one corporate crisis between 2014-2019, with the average number being three. With such a high probability, having a crisis management plan in place is the only responsible thing you can do.

Another essential thing to bear in mind is that even if the crisis wasn’t your ‘fault’, your reputation will still be impacted by how you respond. Never forget the permanence of the internet, where social media, in particular, ensures the virality of shock news items.

In PR crisis management, having clear lines of communication and a proactive approach to addressing potential issues can safeguard your company’s reputation and maintain stakeholder trust.

In a particularly bad crisis, you may even have to change your branding; in this case, OnlyDomains may come to the rescue by helping you select a new and trusted domain name for your rebranded company.

Aside from branding, a good crisis management plan can:

  • Improve employee safety, health, and wellbeing
  • Ensure peace of mind for the employer
  • Potentially increase productivity during and after a crisis

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to implement an effective crisis management plan.

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How to implement an effective crisis management plan

There are three key parts to implementing an effective crisis management plan:

  1. Risk analysis
  2. Action plan
  3. Post-crisis evaluation

Let’s dig deeper and see what they consist of.

  1. Risk analysis

Risk analysis entails studying all potential risks that could lead to a crisis, both of internal and external nature. Terrorist attacks, severe weather, a data breach, or product failure are just a few examples.

After creating an in-depth overview, the next step is to order the risks according to the likelihood of them happening. Then, you’ll want to determine the different areas of impact associated with each risk. Loss of sales, customer dissatisfaction, reduced loyalty, tarnished reputation, higher expenses… you get the picture.

You should plan out all the actions that you could take to mitigate the fallout of said risks. For example, if a loss of sales would damage your e-commerce viability, having successful retargeting campaign strategies as part of your response toolkit is a good idea.

To ensure ultimate preparation, make sure to hire and train a crisis management team. They’ll be able to help you with your crisis management plan and anticipate any areas you may have missed.

Finally, using the best tech out there allows for smooth communications when the boat starts to rock. If phone dropping calls is an issue for the customer service department, for example, this could negatively impact your ability to react well during a crisis.

  1. Action plan

Having done an extensive risk analysis and prepared for elevated communications ability, you can now draft the all-important action plan.

First, you need to plan your activation protocol. What specific event, and at what severity, would trigger your crisis management plan? 

crisis management plan

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The chain of command will also be important here as well as the various actors to be involved: human resources, a legal team, public relations, and any relevant consultants may all earn their spot here. Make sure you can easily reach them, no matter where you are in the world, by using a service such as Vonage cloud phone system for business.

The next step is to work through your communications plan: both internal (which focuses on employees) and external (which addresses customers, stakeholders, and the general public).

When it comes to communications, it’s imperative to always be transparent. With your brand reputation in potential danger, being upfront about your response will lend you credence and reliability. Make sure to update the various parties involved early and often; this is the best way to stymie the rumour mill before it develops a life of its own.

With many companies operating on a remote or hybrid basis nowadays, using remote desktop windows 10 download can be useful for keeping you connected to important players in real-time. 

Additionally, using a single spokesperson to mediate between the company and the general public helps ensure clear and consistent messaging.

Next up, you’ll want to consider what resources will be required. For natural disasters, this could look like emergency food and evacuation teams. If it’s a tech crisis, maybe a team of specialists is who you need to have on call. 

Bear in mind that having in-house legal counsel would cut both costs and response time here, so it might be something else that you want to consider when drafting your action plan.

Finally, the immediate crisis response team should receive extensive training. However, be sure to allocate additional training time to all your other employees, too. Not only will this create a smoother procedure once a crisis hits, but it will also help reassure your workforce in advance.

Having completed all of the above, you should be in possession of a detailed and action-ready plan that should help deliver you through the stormiest of seas.

crisis management plan

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Now, you’ll want to test your plan to see if it provides answers to the following four questions:

  • How long will the immediate and long-term crisis resolution take?
  • What tools and resources are required?
  • What people or teams are involved?
  • Do you need to address consumers directly?
  • How can you prevent future crises, considering the cause of the current one?

That final bullet point may be the last, but it’s certainly not the least important. Let’s take a deeper look.

  1. Post-crisis evaluation

Evaluating your company’s response to the event will help you prepare for the future. At this stage, it’s vital to call a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders and go through both the crisis and the action plan in detail.

What happened, that could have been prevented? What worked and what didn’t, in the way your company handled the crisis? What are the main lessons learned from this situation, and how can you integrate them into your company’s culture?

These are just some of the many aspects that your post-crisis evaluation meeting should examine. Next, you’ll want to record your answers and include any valuable input and feedback from your team in your updated action plan.

Eventually, your aim is to end up with a much clearer picture of the whole situation as well as a new and improved action plan to help you tackle any potential crises in the future.

Effective crisis management: it’s all in the planning

crisis management plan

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There’s no way to prevent crises from happening at all, especially those that happen due to external and unforeseen circumstances, such as weather disasters or cyber attacks.

Yet, with thorough planning and risk analysis, you can do your best to mitigate the worst of the fallout.

It may even prove to be a teachable moment, allowing your company to flourish for many years to come.