Crisis management in national television
Taking responsibility and at the same time turning a question into an industry concern.
Com Hem was in strong growth as the first triple play operator (TV, broadband, telephony) in Sweden. New customers poured in, among other older people with the need for security alarms connected to IP telephony. For two of these customers, the alarms had stopped working due to a power failure, which could have had serious consequences. Com Hem was asked by SVT (Sweden’s Television) and its consumer program Plus to come and explain itself.
Responding to criticism in a live television program places high demands on preparation. Despite this, there should never be any hesitation in taking the opportunity to show responsibility, customer care, commitment and transparency, and as in this case, seizing the opportunity to try to raise up an important issue to become a concern for an entire industry.
The first thing that was done was to appoint a suitable speaker. In this case, Com Hem’s acting head of communications. The alternatives were to send the company’s CEO, sales manager or technology manager, but given the nature of the question of customer offering in combination with technology development, the communications manager was chosen to act as a spokesperson.
Preparations included conducting a number of internal interviews with customer service, technology department, sales manager and CEO. Based on this, a question and answer document was then written, which was practiced on in front of video.
Com Hem live at SVT Plus
Com Hem’s communications manager interviewed by Sverker Olofsson – Sweden’s sharpest consumer journalist
The video is in Swedish and shows how Com Hem’s communications manager answers questions from Sweden’s sharpest consumer journalist. Coming well prepared for a medial activity like this is paramount. Feel free to consult ”Lessons learned” further down this page.
Following the program, which was seen by millions of Swedes, it was found that Com Hem was perceived as responsible for a potentially dangerous situation, but also as a responsible and serious company at the top of Swedish technology development. The brand retained its strength and the company its customer influx.
The opposite, not participating, had not prevented SVT from broadcasting the program, with the difference that the experience of Com Hem would probably have been significantly worse.
» As a ground rule, always respond to criticism and always let customers’ interests trump the company’s.
» Always respond to the media quickly and if you cannot answer, ask to come back with a reply shortly.
» Inform about what happened as quickly as possible within the organization and ensure that everyone understands the seriousness of the situation and helps to bring out the necessary facts. Of course, it is even better if the customer service and communications department have routines in place to continuously inform each other about problems that have occurred.
» When preparing answers, be thorough and include as many aspects of a problem as possible. Also try to raise the issue to a higher level and describe how the own company and its offer fit into this.
» Do not underestimate the pressure that a television appearance puts on a spokesperson. Practice and practice again until he or she feels safe and well prepared.
» Whether the performance goes well or less well, use your own channels to share. If things went less well, ensure that the company’s view of the matter is clearly stated.