GLENDALE, Ariz. -- “Who here has a crisis management plan for your organization?” That was a question posed by Melissa Agnes to the attendees of Winsight’s Convenience Retailing University (CRU) on Feb. 21 in Glendale, Ariz. Of the hundreds of retailers sitting in the audience, only a few raised their hands.
Agnes, a crisis-management expert, outlines ways to “build an invincible brand” in her book, "Crisis Ready." During her CRU presentation, she said approximately 28% of crises spread internationally within one hour, and it takes the average company roughly 21 hours to effectively respond to one. And the longer the response time, the more consequences brands face, both in the short and long term.
“We live in a world of increased risk with labor concerns and regulatory requirements,” she said. “When you’re crisis-ready and your entire team can detect an incident and respond in a way that increases brand credibility and trust, that’s how you have an invincible brand.”
Here are three ways to build brand invincibility, according to Agnes, that can apply to c-stores in times of crises …
1. Choose your lens
Before acting on a crisis, it’s best to reflect upon the event at hand and evaluate its potential consequences internally, Agnes advised. “The first step in becoming crisis-ready is evaluating the lens for negative events and seeing it as an opportunity to build closer relationships with stakeholders,” she said. “The lens which we choose and train our teams to see the event through directly impacts the result the event will have on the brand.”
2. Take a 360-degree view
Understanding the key stakeholders with every scenario is crucial, Agnes said, because crisis management is, after all, about people. Knowing who the stakeholders are, why they matter to the business and what they expect from you in a negative situation will increase the likelihood of building greater credibility and trust. “If you do your homework now to understand who [the stakeholders] are and their expectations, you can put your team in a position to meet and exceed those expectations,” she said.
3. Consider worst-case scenarios
Distinguishing between crises and lesser issues is key in this step, Agnes said. While both are negative events, crises stop daily business functions, require top leadership involvement and threaten the longevity of one of the following: people, the environment, business operations, the company’s reputation and its bottom line. An issue, although something that must be addressed, doesn’t threaten any of these.