Yet another cautionary tale.
Crisis management, contingency planning, reputation management, leadership, why are these so hard? why are they so hard to grasp, to fathom and to implement? Maybe there is a perception that because they don’t figure into the day to day operations of organizations large and small that they’re not that important. Or are they?
It’s funny though, just when they’re needed most, you can’t find them; and it’s right then that everyone seems to ask-“What do you mean we don’t have policies, plans and procedures in place for “…
We talk all the time about the need to have social media crisis management tools, procedures and policies in place for good reason. Why? They work. They help. The mine field is littered with companies that have not done a good job in this area. The most recent is obviously BP Oil.
Why are crisis management policies and plans needed? Because customers, consumers are empowered now. When customers and people are upset and have been wronged, they can take to social networks and the power of viral socialness and vent and complain and create momentum to make a difference and affect change.
Companies need to be prepared for this-even if it never happens. Because you never know when things will fail and when someone might complain. You never know when groups, large groups, will take to social networks, large social networks and complain about your company. Why wait?
It’s why you monitor. It’s why you listen. It’s why you have these policies/plans in place.
Here’s a mini situation. Two days ago another opportunity to get it right fell by the wayside. This one though isn’t neccessarily social media related, yet the difference now is whereas before there might not have been a way or platform to complain there now is. So it does have social media undertones.
I decided to take my son to see Toy Story 3. There was a huge storm sitting on top of Naples, Florida, so a movie seemed like a great idea. The Regal Entertainment Group operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 6,745 screens in 546 theatres in 38 states. So they are a large outfit.
Yet it would appear that they have no customer service contingency plan in place for when their systems “go down” to complete transactions. Their contingency if you will, is to take cash, which systemically eliminates the huge section of their customers that came armed with a debit or credit card only
So here’s how it went down.
3 windows all open and yet all were saying they could take cash only because their systems were down. Wait, no this one says it can… We went from one window to the next to the next. And yet one window was able to take debit or credit cards? Wouldn’t all windows be on the same system? The information seemed to be inconsistent. No messaging to let people know of the current situation. No one out front, no signage, no manager, nothing.
We were able to get in, but I was already thinking about the disconnect in “managing” a customer service situation that seemed to be getting uglier by the minute.
Next up, popcorn and snacks. My assumption? I used the debit card out front, so the system must be back up and on line. Long line later, I order, present my card and am told that the system is down and they can only take cash. Are you serious? I tell them I just used it out front. They say they are told that the system is down. I tell them to try it. They say, like robots, that they are only to take cash. You mean you’re told only to take cash? Yes. You can’t even try and swipe the card? No. I just waited in line for 15 minutes. Sorry.
I look behind me and the line is swelling. I look to my left and it’s like this exact conversation is happening across the board. Where’s the manager, where’s the signage, where’s the “make it right act”? Rainchecks? free popcorn? Something?
I resolve to blog about it because I don’t have time to talk to the manager who I do spot trying to handle several large groups of irate people. I wonder what would have happened if I had tweeted about it? What would have happened if they had been proactive? I probably would have blogged about that as well.
But now a not so favorable customer experience will now end up online thanks to the intersection of search and social media…Oh well.