Crisis management best practice dictates that, if the worst happens, a company should, firstly, be open and honest with its customers, staff and other important parties, such as regulators. Secondly, it must also try to fix the problem as soon as possible. If it doesn’t follow this practice, crisis management case studies generally suggest its reputation could be fatally damaged and its bottom line affected.
So it will be interesting to see if the news that Uber has only just fessed up to – that it suffered a data breach over a year ago, affecting around 57-million customers and drivers – is finally a crisis too far for the controversial company.
So far it has survived numerous crises including a sexual harassment scandal, highly public fights with regulators, its own drivers and Apple and, perhaps most shockingly, acquiring the medical records of a rape victim without seemingly affecting the bottom line.
“Uber has entered that rarefied portion of the market, alongside companies like Ryanair and Sports Direct, where unpleasantness is now an assumed part of the brand. Sure, some people like the company. But many don’t, but also know it’s cheaper than the competition.”
As I wrote in a recent blog post on Ryanair’s fumbled handling of its mass plane cancellations a few weeks ago, preparation combined with being open and honest when the crisis hits can go a long way to helping salvage reputation in a bad situation.
The regulators, lawyers and investors in Uber may be the ones who will pass the final judgements but customers in the US affected by the data breach are apparently already lining up class action cases.
But for those companies that do still care about the affect a crisis could have on their reputation, remember the best practice golden rules of:
• Tell it all
• Tell it fast
• Tell it truthfully
Being as transparent as possible won’t make the crisis go away but at least your voice will be heard, you will be able to have some control over the timing and the messages and, therefore, the perception of your company.
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