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Post-Crisis Management: The Aftermath

A critical part of any well-designed crisis management plan is a post-crisis review process. This reflective process can pinpoint the weaknesses in an existing plan and suggest appropriate solutions. It is, therefore, crucial that the Crisis Management Team (CMT) document all of the steps it takes during a crisis. This record will facilitate review and, by documenting the company's responsiveness to the situation, help the company limit any liability arising out of the crisis.

As an adjunct to the CMT's post-crisis review process, company management, with the help of selected members of the CMT, should implement long-range corrective action to address the errors (if any) that contributed to the onset or magnitude of the crisis. Specific areas management should examine include: early warning systems; staffing; insurance coverage; quality control; security; and division of management responsibility. Changes in some or all of these areas may be appropriate.

In addition to these steps, a company should assess its legal position as a result of a crisis. Customers, suppliers, employees, consumers, and government agencies could all have potential claims. A company will, of course, also want to consider any claims it might have for injuries it has suffered in connection with the crisis. Although such claims should be explored, companies should bear in mind that litigation generally is expensive and may not be the most effective method of addressing problems.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the CMT, together with sales and marketing staff, should work aggressively to win back any customer or consumer confidence that may have been lost either in the company or in the products themselves. Many experts believe the most opportune time for building product and corporate reputations is during and immediately following a crisis.

Strategies for regaining consumer confidence might include customer or consumer polling to assess attitudes and impressions of the company, personal outreach, advertising, media briefings, media appearances, new product introductions and product samplings.