Before a company can successfully prepare for a strategic approach to crisis, it must have a strong internal relationship with the employees and stakeholders that keep the company afloat. A company can deal with crisis online and cultivate relationships with stakeholders and the public by building trust in the organization. Author Lan Ni said, “Organizations with meaningful interpersonal communication may achieve a better shared definition of the organization” (Ni, Lan. Strategic Role of Relationship Building: Perceived Links Between Employee-Organization Relationships and Globalization Strategies).
There is an element of trust that may be impacted when a communicative gap begins to form internally that can impact external relationships online and offline.
The objectives of an organization’s communication plan should be centered on transparency. If the employees within a company do not think their organization is engaging in ethical practices when handling crisis situations, company loyalty and production will falter. “Studies have shown that employees, who used to be proud of their organization, change their perception of the organization according to crisis type (product recall, mismanagement, rumors, etc.) and the manager’s handling of the crisis situation” (Johansen, Winni).
When Regions Bank faced litigation due to overdraft fees being charged incorrectly, internal communication was needed to deal with customer and employee concerns externally online. Strategically, the company could have taken a more proactive approach in voicing key messages to employees internally that should be relayed to customers. In order for employees to answer customer inquiries through digital communication platforms regarding overdrafts, there needed to be working knowledge of the crisis Regions Bank was facing.
“There is a strong correlation between having a crisis management team/crisis manager in the organization and the typical reactions to crises among employees. Organizations that have established a crisis management team or appointed a crisis manager seem to experience loss of motivation and engagement to a lesser extent than organizations without this strategic instrument. Their employees are perceived to be less frustrated, they feel less insecure, and are less afraid in a crisis situation. The employees also do not seem to leave the organization” (Johansen, Winni).
“The old adage about the customer always being right is as true today as it always has been. No matter how certain you are that the customer was at fault, denials, counter claims and buck passing are the social media equivalent of throwing a grenade into your own side’s trenches” (Jones-Brynley, Luke. 6 Examples of Social Media Crises: What can we learn? Retrieved from http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/).
This is what Regions Bank does effectively in social media – treat the customer as if they are always correct. The goal of a social media representative is to handle a crisis by offering to speak with the social media user offline in a more personal setting to resolve their issue. The issue is never simply removed or challenged on public social media channels.
Jones-Brynley, Luke. 6 Examples of Social Media Crises: What can we learn? Retrieved from http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/.
Winni, Aggerholm, & Finn, Entering new territory: A study of internal crisis management and crisis communication in organizations.
Ni, Lan. Strategic Role of Relationship Building: Perceived Links Between Employee-Organization Relationships and Globalization Strategies p. 105