We have blogged repeatedly (most recently in June 2019) about the problems that Whirlpool has experienced with their long-running recall of tumble dryers. Now, unbelievably, they have announced a recall of half a million washing machines and within the first 24 hours there have been “technical problems” with the recall website. Unsurprisingly this has driven thousands of people to try to contact the company by phone causing further issues.
So often we see instances like this where a challenging incident for an organisation to manage is made considerably worse by poor crisis communications. Way back in 2011 we blogged about the communications problems that NI Water experienced during the loss of water supply to thousands of homes. Fast forward eight years and it appears that nothing has changed: only last month we blogged about the problems that customers had experienced in getting in touch with the bank during the IT disruptions at TSB in April 2018.
It doesn’t have to be this way! When supply chain issues closed nearly all of KFC’s 900 UK outlets in February 2018, a highly effective communication response took the sting out of what could have been an extremely embarrassing incident for the company. Understandably, much of the focus in reporting of the incident has been on the humorous “FCK” campaign, delivered through everything from social media to newspaper adverts. However, the company also deserves praise for good practical communications planning, as evidenced by their ability to handle six months’ worth of media enquiries in one week.
Good crisis communications cannot, on its own, solve a crisis; but poor crisis communications can certainly make it a lot worse!