Do you live in fear that your company will one day face a PR crisis? Maybe you fear a disgruntled employee or customer will drag your brand name through the mud. Or perhaps you fear a social media post will go viral for all the wrong reasons. Probably the worst that could happen is your company having to issue a global product recall, just like Samsung.
As you may have already heard, Samsung phones have been blowing up, and we don’t mean “ringing nonstop” (definition provided by Urban Dictionary and millennials everywhere). When the company’s Galaxy Note 7 hit stores in August 2016, it was widely reported that the handset’s faulty batteries were overheating and causing the phone to catch fire. Since then, 2.5 million phones have been recalled and Samsung received the worst free publicity imaginable – a sign on every airport check-in desk saying ‘do not fly with this product’.
But, we could all learn a thing or two from Samsung – definitely not how to manufacture a phone – but from the steps they took when handling this global PR crisis.
Step 1: Honesty. Samsung were quick to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the faulty handsets. In a statement issued one week after the first reported incident, Samsung confirmed a “battery cell issue” to be the cause of the fires and that they were working with third party experts to address the source of the issue. Honesty is absolutely the best policy in a PR crisis.
Step 2: Acting fast. The brand immediately recalled the product, showing the company’s understanding of the severity of the crisis. And they didn’t just recall some products in some markets; they recalled the product globally, demonstrating their commitment to the safety of all Galaxy Note 7 customers.
Step 3: Refund or replace… or both – which is exactly what Samsung did. Customers were given the choice of replacing the Note 7 with a S7 or S7 edge, or obtaining a full refund. Whilst nothing can rectify the inconvenience caused to Note 7 owners, or the use of fire hydrants by an unlucky few, immediate refunds or replacements can go a long way to restoring goodwill among customers.
Step 4: Updates. Some companies would bury their heads in the sand and hope all this talk of fire and phones would disappear – not Samsung. They have continued to update customers on their investigations into the faulty batteries and have communicated the safety of all other Samsung products.
Step 5: Apologise. Whilst Samsung’s first statement came under criticism for being too impassive, their most recent apologies, including a full-page letter in the Wall Street Journal and an email sent to Galaxy Note former-owners, were sincere and heartfelt. Actions do speak louder than words, although sometimes, we still have to hear the words and they have to mean something.
Whilst the crisis has undoubtedly eroded confidence in the Samsung brand, they have taken all the steps necessary to try to put out the fire surrounding Samsung electronics and regain the trust of their customers.
Let’s hope that you’re never faced with a similar situation. However, if you find yourself in the mire, always consult an expert who can guide you through the crisis. If you need help contact us today on 0161 973 6763.