The three Rs of product recall communication

It’s been a long time between drinks here on our team blog. Largely due to the fairly annoying nature of proper crises coming up at those incredibly inconvenient times and making me focus again on my day job. Also, I have just been on holiday, so now that I’m recharged with a full dose of melanin, we’re back and raring to go.

Way back in June I attended the airmic 2010 annual conference, which sees risk managers join with insurers and other like-minded types to talk about all things risk. I was invited to attend by our friends from Zurich Financial Services, as they launched their new Product Safety and Recall Insurance offer to the UK market.

Recalls have had a bit of a profile in the past 18 months, with brands like Toyota and Maclaren in particular coming under the microscope. Product recalls represent one of the greatest potential threats to a business’s reputation. If handled badly a product recall can expose a business to significant public and media attention, with potentially damaging consequences for its reputation.

At Hill & Knowlton we work with the three fundamentals for successfully managing product recalls: readiness, response and rebuilding. Obviously for on-the-ground crisis managers this needs some expansion, but here’s a quick overview of the basics.

Readiness is about the basics of good business and supply chain monitoring, for example having a simple process for people to follow, and a regular training program for any staff involved in a recall. Also think about how you communicate with your suppliers though, as it’s possible to avert a recall by catching a problem early in the supply chain.

Response is the part most often associated with recalls because it’s the part that’s immediately visible to the public. A consumer faced with a product recall has three initial responses available to them: have you sold me a product of inferior quality; have you sold me a product that puts me or my family at risk; and, how painless are you going to make this whole process for me? Managing recalls effectively has to be about addressing these concerns clearly, quickly and honestly.

The rebuilding phase is crucial to successfully managing a product recall because the success of a recall should be evaluated in terms of the company’s ability to recover from the incident quickly. This means making a concerted effort to mitigate the lasting effects a product recall may have on a company’s or product’s reputation. From the minute a product fault is identified, the company is on a journey to re-build customers’ trust.

Over the next few days we’ll post some greater detail about the different supply chain elements that can contribute to the risk of a product recall.

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick Baird, Grant Smith. Grant Smith said: Been a while since I did one of these – so pls read this one RT @HK_London: 3Rs of product recall communication: [...]

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