What is crisis management?
Crisis management refers to the way that businesses prepare for and manage the emergence of events that have the potential to threaten the health of the company. A “crisis” can constitute virtually any emergency that threatens the business in some way, either by damaging its reputation, having a negative impact on its finances, or disrupting business operations. Due to the dramatic unpredictability of world events – as we’re seeing now with the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s important that companies have the necessary tools to deal with unexpected shifts in the economic landscape. That’s where crisis management procedures come into play.
Developing a crisis management plan
Next question: how do you go about producing a crisis management model for your SaaS business? Put simply, there are five basic steps associated with business crisis management:
Identify potential crises and determine their impact
First off, you need to identify what sort of threats your business could actually be facing. There are many different types of threats to consider, including financial threats (drop in demand for product), natural crises (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes), technological crises (software crash, server issues), and even personnel crises (personal misconduct, illegal activity). Then, you should try to work out the impact on your company. Determine the potential loss in sales, damage to your reputation, increase in expenses, customer dissatisfaction, and so on.
Determine the actions you may need to take to resolve these crises
Next, you need to think about the different crisis management procedures that you could implement to tackle these emergencies head on. There are a broad range of actions you could pursue, but it may be useful to work with a corporate communications or crisis management professional, as they may be able to provide you with specialist advice on navigating industry-specific crises. When you’re developing resolution plans, think about the tools/resources you’ll need, how many people need to be involved, how long it will take, and whether you’re going to communicate with your customers during the crisis management resolution phase.
Appoint specific team members to carry out each of these actions
It’s important to assign roles to specific members of your team so that if an emergency does arrive, you’re able to hit the ground running. Think about the different areas of your business, from HR to Sales to Legal, and work out who is best suited to carry out your crisis management procedures.
Train your team
Now, you need to make sure that every member of your team understands the role they need to play within your crisis management model. You may decide to do this through meetings and training days, or by bringing in crisis management professionals to run seminars for your team. Remember, even if some of your employees don’t have specific roles to play when dealing with a crisis, they still need to understand what’s going on and what’s expected of them as members of your company.
Ensure that your crisis management procedures are regularly updated
Finally, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Threats are constantly mutating, and you should review your crisis management model on a regular basis to ensure you’re still up to date. In addition, as your business grows and expands into new territories, it may be a good idea to think about new threats that may not have been on your horizon before (i.e. country-specific threats, such as natural disasters or political instability).
Tips for business crisis management
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding into how a crisis management model works, check out some of our best crisis management procedure tips:
Don’t worry about over-communicating – When it comes to crisis management, it’s important to stay on top of your corporate communications. Let your customers know how you’re dealing with the crisis to provide a sense of clarity and safety. Dampening panic is crucial and communicating (or even over-communicating) can be a major part of that.
Be flexible with your SaaS pricing model – To navigate the choppy waters of a crisis, you need to be a little more flexible with your pricing plans. Consider offering special, one-off packages or fixed price trials, but be wary of appearing too much like you’re exploiting a crisis for financial gain.
Make your marketing relevant for the crisis – If you’re dealing with a global crisis, the businesses that prosper tend to be the ones that make their messaging relevant for the situation at hand. Align your brand messaging across all your social channels and ensure that you’re grounding your ads in the current situation so that they speak to the emotions and concerns that your customers are experiencing.
Position your business for future success – The way that your business reacts in a crisis could affect your fortune months, years, and even decades down the line. In the financial crisis of 2007-8, companies that focused their energies on strategic initiatives were fastest out of the gate and saw a much more accelerated rate of recovery than their rivals. As such, it may be a good idea not just to focus on the crisis period, but the post-crisis period so as to set your business up for success in the future.
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