Risk, Issues & Crisis

December 11, 2017

Don’t let a Christmas crisis cook your goose


Written by Kate Clough and Jen Horsman from our Business Resilience team:

Rather like Santa, crisis consultants often find Christmas Eve is a busy time. As the light fades in the evening sky and Rudolph catches a last forty winks before the night’s work, the emergency phone line starts ringing-in unresolved issues.

It could be salmonella-contaminated vol au vents. It could be badly packaged electronic gifts at risk of exploding before the New Year. It could be incorrectly labelled vitamin supplements promising unforeseen pharmacological consequences.

So why are Christmas Eve (and Friday afternoons) notorious for attracting crises in the same way that magnets pull in iron filings?

The main reason is that decision-making around product-related issues is notoriously difficult, and easy to procrastinate over. And often it’s only the realisation that escalating situations can’t be left unresolved over weekends or Christmas holidays, which finally catalyses crisis teams to start taking action.

However, when the office lights are switching off and Chris Rea is starting the inevitable drive home for Christmas, it is not the optimal time to call in reinforcements.

So how can you make sure that if you are the recipient of a crisis call this Christmas, the holidays don’t turn into a turkey?

Based on the experience of handling over 30 product recalls and potential product recalls so far in 2017, our Business Resilience team offers five festive tips:

  1. Sign up for a 24/7 emergency support service so that, if the call comes in, you have extra hands on deck. Instinctif Partners offers a 24/7/365 service including strategic advice and press office support encompassing spokesperson coaching and live incident reviews. We also offer access to international partners, call centre capacity, value-added technical services and legal advice via our comprehensive resource network.
  1. Make sure you have out-of-hours contact details for your Crisis Management Team and senior management, not forgetting deputies for each. Lack of pre-assigned deputies is one of the trends identified by our CrisisOptic and RecallOptic benchmarking tools. Ensure you have the people in place to authorise decisions without delay.
  1. Additionally, ensure you have login details and instructions for your website and social media channels, in case you need to post news or updates over the festive period. This is a common but easily avoidable oversight.
  1. Always carry out a full review of every live incident (and near miss) and implement learning. Whilst it is tempting for crisis teams to quickly disband and move on with the day job when a live response is over, good post-incident practices can help all businesses learn from the experience. By conducting a post incident review, either via face-to-face workshop or questionnaire, organisations can refine their processes to formalise approaches that worked well, fill in gaps and remove obstacles.
  1. Make a New Year’s Resolution to review your crisis management and product recall procedures in 2018, to make sure your escalation, communication and decision-making processes are optimised to avoid any disagreeable weekend or Christmas-holiday panics in future!

To calculate your business resilience or recall readiness visit https://instinctif.com/optic/