bannerFranchisor Stories

Resolving a Business Crisis: How to Turn a Catastrophe into a Win

By monitoring feedback in real-time, brands have the opportunity to turn a guest from disappointed to impressed

By Sarah Mellema1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 8:08AM 01/27/17

Whether it’s an E. coli outbreak at Chipotle or an angry customer on social media, most brands will experience a crisis at some point. And while many companies will crumble under the pressure, others are able to emerge from a crisis even stronger than before. Of course, you hope it never happens to your brand, but if and when it does, can you turn a potentially full-blown crisis into a PR win? It might sound impossible, but with a bit of creativity, preparation and resourcefulness, anything is possible.

In 2015, for example, Reese’s introduced a Christmas tree-shaped peanut butter cup, but unfortunately, it looked nothing like a Christmas tree:

Oops. Social media was blowing up with people shaming Reese’s for putting such stupid-looking candy into a wrapper. Reese’s could have tried brushing it under the rug, giving a half-hearted apology statement and trying again next year. But instead, without denying the sloppiness of their new “trees,” they got creative and won over new and old fans alike with their hilarious response:

As brilliant as this response was, not all crises have the potential to be this light-hearted. What if someone found a bug in their salad, or an employee wasn’t representing a brand properly? In cases like this, the typical recommendation would be to keep the story contained and try to make it up to your customer. But in the process of doing that, what if you tried surprising that one customer with an out-of-the-box apology?

MOOYAH Burgers Fries & Shakes has a great system down for ensuring a food prep issue or quality control problem is solved right away and won’t even begin to spiral downhill. Their three-minute guest satisfaction survey is given to customers during check-out with an incentive, such as a free small fry, so most guests will just take the survey while they’re still in the restaurant. The company’s team is monitoring the surveys in real-time, so if the local store happens to miss a problem, the corporate team catches it right away, immediately reaches out to the guest and boom – within minutes, the guest is changed from bummed to impressed. With this system, the customer is typically still in the restaurant when they get a phone call.

“In any restaurant, there will be tons of little crisis situations that you can’t anticipate,” said Natalie Anderson Liu, VP of Marketing at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes. “We’ve seen things that should have been a small deal become a big deal, so our goal is to jump on every complaint and take each one very seriously. People just want to be acknowledged.”

Both MOOYAH and Reese’s responses work because they reacted so quickly, but what makes them even better is the fact that they go above what a customer would typically expect when a company lets them down. In MOOYAH’s case, a customer most likely wouldn’t have expected their survey responses to be handled within minutes and on that personal of a level.

While it’s important to follow your PR team’s protocol for handling a crisis situation, think about how you can take the next step to impress a customer and turn the crisis into a win for your brand.