As part of my dissertation research, I have been reading about using new technologies as part of a company’s crisis communications strategy. As an advocate for responsible use of technology, I think this is a good idea but only if the technologies are used in a way that facilitates dialogue and encourages communication between all parties involved.
Newer technologies include blogs or websites, social media, and email. These mass communication technologies enable companies to quickly and efficiently release information about their crisis, and to have a dialogue with their customers. The media also takes advantage of sharing material so easily and quickly. But, the Internet and its associated technologies has encouraged an atmosphere of impossible speed when it comes to responding to crises. It has created a 24/7 professional atmosphere.
When I have a problem, I take to Twitter, and normally get a response from the company within a day’s time. Twitter is a very public platform, and it does not do well for a company’s reputation for it to be slacking on its customer service. But, Twitter is a very limited platform: I can only tweet 140 characters. If I need to get on the phone and talk to a real human, it is ten times more difficult to do so.
Technology is extraordinarily helpful, but it also a risk. There is potential for the company to be caught unawares because they had no forewarning of damaging material being released online. Or, the company might risk being inundated with requests for help when a crisis is occurring because consumers can easily use technology to communicate their problems.
I am an advocate for technology, but again, it must be used responsibly. A company should be prepared for more than just online engagement with its customers and should be able to handle its customers responding online if a crisis occurs. Preparation is essential when using technology to communicate.