There are many forms of business blunders ranging from shipping errors, miscommunications and clerical mistakes to more significant problems, such as major drops in stock value or managerial corruption. While some of the more dramatic problems seem to happen to larger companies, many entrepreneurs are faced with relatively large problems in their first few years in business. Therefore, a company’s client relationship management team must be aware of any major crisis and should be prepped on how best to deal with the situation when interacting with clients face-to-face or through other communication channels.

When a major crisis breaks out in a burgeoning business, company leaders and CRM teams must learn how to speak to clientele to address the situation head-on rather than let rumors run wild or let frustrations mount. Not only should a young business be sure to explain the problem to clients and offer data on how the errors are being addressed, but also CRM teams should attempt to speak out on the issue before client questions arise. The faster a company reacts to the problem both internally and to the public, the more transparent operations will seem to the client. As a result, the business will appear confident and competent.

A lack of communication or temporary silence with customers, particularly in a small business, can be detrimental to client relationship management efforts. Without keeping the lines open, a firm risks damaging a reputation that has just started to have a presence in an industry. Is your service team ready to stand up to a major crisis?

Crisis Plan
Entrepreneurs are forced to operate, innovate and grow on a very tight budget in the initial phases of building a business. While it is important to set priorities and cut costs when necessary, it is equally valuable to have some kind of crisis plan in place to ensure staff understand how to handle problems of all sizes. A crisis plan consists of instructions on how to handle client questions, complaints and threats to stop doing business with the company. It also outlines different strategies for correcting errors quickly and efficiently while maintaining relationships with doubtful clients.

Key elements of a crisis plan include a communication protocol that explains the problem while confronting attacks from competitors and critics in the industry. Many of these strategies include pre-planned messages that can be disseminated via communication channels, quickly reaching a large number of clients at once. These messages can come in the form of an email, video discussions with business leaders, Twitter posts with links to informative content or Facebook dialogues. Whatever form they take, make sure the notes are working to engage clients in a discussion about the problem and associated solutions in place. The information contained in these communication tactics must be reiterated to client management staff to support strong responses when questions arise and complaints start to pile up. The more information CRM team members have on any given problem, the easier it will be for employees to reassure restless clients and maintain a harmonious rapport for long-term profits.

There may come a time when you have to work to reestablish the client relationship. Please read my post on Salvaging the Client Relationship for more information on what you can do to rectify a mistake.