Archive for August 18th, 2010

Managing product recall risk: retail channel

How closely is your business’s communication department tied into your reseller or retail network? If the answer is “not very” or similar then you’re likely to find yourself up against it in the event of a product recall.

Effective recalls depend on clear communication to stakeholders, and a committed effort by retailers to remove affected product from shelves as quickly as possible is the most visible example of this in action. But proper planning for a recall extends beyond just clearing shelves.

  • Careful monitoring of customer complaints to identify any possible product safety issues. If you have a product issue that hasn’t been picked up through your usual quality assurance/control processes, chances are the first you’ll hear of it is when the consumer complaints start getting back to you. Making sure that you have systematic monitoring of complaints helps identify potential issues much more quickly, which means you can intervene earlier, with better outcomes for both consumers and your business. It’s easier and cheaper to recall one hundred units of something than it is to recall a thousand.
  • Well prepared and rehearsed recall and crisis communications plan. Yes, obviously I’m going to say this because I work in crisis communication. The thing is, that doesn’t make the point any less relevant. Having worked on numerous recalls (and a number of near misses), on both sides of the world, I can tell you first-hand that the thing that makes the biggest difference is working with a team of people who know what they’re doing. That means having a plan, and knowing how to use it.
  • Suppliers/manufacturers should have responsibility for taking out recall insurance. Recalls are expensive things, and no-one ever wants to have one, so it’s a really good idea to cover yourself for the possibility that one day you’re going to have to stump for some kind of product recall. There are expenses at literally every step and the costs can mount quickly. Seriously, you have car insurance, home insurance, health insurance…why wouldn’t you do this as well?
  • Strict security measures at retail level to minimise product tampering risk. While we’d all like to believe the best of people, the fact remains that sometimes people tamper with products, and they do it for all manner of reasons. Part of the defence against this comes down to the security measures taken by retailers. It’s also helpful for ruling out actual tampering in cases where consumers have tried to fraudulently claim a product had an issue. I’ve worked at least two recall cases where store CCTV helped police identify a tampering or fraud suspect, averting the need for an actual recall.

If you’ve already had a go at playing Zurich’s risk management game, go back and see how you do now we’ve given you some of the answers (and yes, we have).

Tim Luckett talks recall and reputation with Communication World

As our regular readers would be aware, our unofficial theme of the month is product recall communication.Coincidentally, US-based industry magazine, Communication World, has featured an opionion piece on this topic, by our very own Lead Counsel for issues and crisis management, Tim Luckett.

If you’re a subscriber to CW you should definitely check it out because there’s a whole special feature on crisis management that’s worth at least two morning commutes. However if you’re not signed up, you could always try this version over at All Business.