Early Learning Centers (ELCs) can learn what not to do from these infamous airline scandals.
No doubt, excessive force was used to remove Dr. David Dao from United Airlines flight 3411. The gruesome video invaded every social feed about a month ago. Not only did this video travel at the speed of light it amplified the crisis exponentially. Unfortunately, someone always has a cell phone to record your every move. Just as CEO Oscar Munoz issues an initial response another video steals his spotlight. This time the video shows a peaceful Dr. voluntarily giving up his seat, only to retract his statement when he finds out the next flight will not meet his demanding schedule.
This crisis costs United Airlines ‘bigly.’
Sadly, United stocks fell. Instantly appalled United Customers took their business elsewhere. In the event that Munoz can not improve customer satisfaction, he would loose his half mill bonus this year. Lastly, Dr. Dao’s settlement is rumored to be around $140 million.
How much will a flight attendant hitting a woman on the head with a stroller cost the airline? What about a customer squashed into his seat suffering back and neck injuries? Consequently, businesses lose over 83 Billion dollars a year from poor customer service. How much can your ELC bear to lose?
Infamous ELC scandals.
A friend of mine shared her mortifying story. Imagine sending your child to Little Folks, an early learning, and child care center, only to find out that the manager of the center has inappropriate sexual contact with your child. I can’t imagine what ran through my girlfriend’s mind when she got the news. Certainly fear, panic, anxiety, began filling her mind wondering if her daughter has been assaulted by the man in charge of her well-being. The center settled, and the manager was released from employment. But who would want to take their child to Little Folks?
Another friend shared a less intense but similarly important issue at an ELC. Her oldest child is autistic. A teacher at the ELC tugged him from the collar as she was picking him up. As she approaches the teacher in disbelief the teacher replies “this kid doesn’t listen very well.” Furious and holding her composure wanting to murder the teacher my friend replies that kid is my son!”
Grabbing his belongings she storming to the director she gave her a piece of her mind. Regretfully, the director did nothing but scold her about her outstanding tuition for the remainder of the week. She took the issue to the state.
However, what saved these two businesses is the fact that social media was not what it is today when those crises happened.
What not to do in a Crisis.
Don’t ignore the issue.
In the case of United airlines first response to the Dao issue or my girlfriend’s child being tugged, the worst thing done was that the issue was ignored. Here is the problem. We often dismiss things we don’t know or don’t want to know. Munoz could have waited a bit more to make an initial response. His crisis communication team should have been sending out a message that United is doing all it can to investigate the issue. In my girlfriend’s case, the director of the ELC should have responded with I will look into it and can I meet with you after I have spoken to the teacher. When you ignore the problem you let it escalate.
Don’t stay quiet.
For Pete’s sake do not stay quiet. If you stay quiet you will let others speculate and speak on your behalf. Only those designated by your company to speak to the media or to those involved in the problem should be speaking. Don’t be second in reporting the issue. Issues such as allegations of child molestation can kill your ELC. These delicate problems should be faced head on and with the utmost respect to all your clients. The same goes with any type of physical harm or abuse to children.
Don’t forget everyone is watching you.
Consumers are like children watching their parents every move. When a kid doesn’t like you, there is no turning back. Gaining a child’s trust is hard once his or her mind is set on the fact they simply don’t like you. In the same fashion when consumers mistrust your brand it’s difficult to win them back. Listen to what people are saying about your brand both online and offline. Pay attention and monitor your cybersphere. Go above and beyond to exemplify your brand’s values through all social pages. Watch what you say and do online as they should speak of your brand’s character and integrity.
Don’t think it can’t happen to you.
Be prepared. Always be prepared. The best advice here is to run probability scenarios of crisis your business may encounter. Remember someone is always watching you and your mistake can go viral in a cyber second. Develop a crisis team. Assign a communications officer that is media ready to speak on behalf of the company. Prep your social media manager and team to monitor what people are saying about the incident. Lastly, make sure your messages are consistent across all brand pages and website.
In any event, a crisis is costly. They can ruin your business in the blink of an eye. Given the events of the airline, scandals need to make sure your employees are empathetic with your customers. In addition, make your customers king and queen. They come first always. Without them, your business would not exist.
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