You may have noticed that FPinfomart has been having some technical difficulties the past week (humour, folks – it’s on the list, see below). Throughout it all there have been a few tools that have made my job, at least the part of it involving communication, easier.
We all hope that things run smoothly at work – but sometimes they don’t. When crisis strikes, it’s handy to have tools in place to help you through the day (and night!) Here’s my list.
Twitter gets the #1 spot on this list. Although I’m able to place a message at the top of the FPinfomart site to communicate information to users, if the site is down, I can’t put the message up – or even if I could, you couldn’t read it. Twitter is a fantastic communications channel. It allowed me to broadcast messages about site status to anyone who follows us – even when the site was inaccessible. It also allowed our users a mechanism to inquire about site status if they didn’t know how to contact us by phone or e-mail. And, you can read and post to Twitter from pretty much any device these days. Which brings me to…
2. My Blackberry
Whether you’re a die-hard Blackberry user or a member of the cult of iPhone, a good smartphone is indispensable in crisis communications situations. E-mail, of course – such as details from the tech support team, sharing them with colleagues on the front lines, or responding to customer inquiries. I can post to Twitter and be notified when we’ve been @mentioned. It keeps me informed and engaged without being chained to my PC. And, it’s small enough to fit under my pillow for those 4:30 a.m. status checks.
3. My iPad
Speaking of the wee hours… I find that the iPad bridges the gap between “need more screen real estate and functionality than my smartphone can offer” and “too much bother to boot up the laptop.” I can quickly load our site status pages; update the website status message; use Twitter and e-mail; and it’s FAST.
4. A Sense of Humour
Of course we take any site downtime seriously, and of course we point all available resources to fixing the situation as quickly and diligently as possible. But service with a smile can boost everyone’s morale. It IS possible to let customers know you’re sympathetic, working on a problem, and want to help – without sounding like a robot reading a script.
My new favourite hashtag - #arghtechnologyargh
The trend in corporate crisis communications is moving more and more firmly toward openness, honesty, and speed. All of the tools I’ve listed above, while fairly obvious, allow me to execute communications that emphasize exactly those values.
So, despite embracing the #arghtechnologyargh hashtag, it turns out that some pieces of technology are pretty critical when others are on the blink.
What’s in your crisis communications toolbox? Let us know below in the comments, or tell us on Twitter.