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In crisis, healthy client relations can save your business

Company: Media Education CEE, s.r.o.

As consumers become more mature and self-aware, more and more companies in the Czech Republic are facing the threat of crisis communications. Today, there are two approaches that don’t work anymore: avoidance by doing nothing and lying.  

Some of you may have followed the recent KFC scandal around “free food delivery.” For those who didn’t, just a short reminder: in early June 2016 KFC Czech Republic announced the launch of a new service: free food deliveries. In reality the company pumped up the price of delivered food as opposed to the food in store. When customers started warning the company on social media about its hidden price policy, KFC initially denied it. Later, under public pressure, the company admitted its blunder, apologized, offered offended customers meal vouchers for CZK 250 and started food deliveries with food and transport charged separately. Summed up, this little game cost KFC not only money: it cost its image, reputation and trustworthiness. In today’s climate of hyper-competition, not many companies can afford to lose their customers’ trust. 

If you want to grow your business long-term, here are a couple of recommendations that might help you in achieving your goal.

  1. Invest in effective, transparent internal communications. You can no longer afford that your sales, marketing, PR and HR department don’t talk to each other. Make sure all your people are informed about your communication policies and that all decisions you make are ethical and communicated timely and transparently to everyone, so your staff knows how to react when a crisis reaches your yard.
  2. Train your people in communications and emotional intelligence. The worst thing a customer can hear from your people when they have a problem with your product or service is: “This is not my fault.” Make sure all your people are trained in client communications and that your staff coming in direct contact with customers also masters the basics of emotional intelligence and client empathy.
  1. Don’t lie; don’t go for crooked business practices. In a climate heavy in Facebook, Instagram and other channels of instant communication, your chase of the quick buck will have much shorter legs and much heavier consequences than in the past. Just ask Volkswagen if you don’t believe it.

A mentor once told me: “Czech customers ask for relations, but they don’t decide based on relations.” Even though this statement might be true, healthy, trust-driven relations with your customers have a much higher chance to carry you into your future. As the number of companies facing crisis communication grows, we can only hope this will ultimately lead to a positive outcome: a mature market driven by partnership, conversation and more truthful strategic communications.  

Author: Cristina Muntean, Strategic Communications Advisor and Trainer. Chairwoman of the AmCham Marketing & Communications Committee. Founder Media Education CEE, www.mediaed.cz


Abstract: As the latest communications crisis in KFC Czech Republic showed, Czech customers are more and more self-aware. Companies can no longer afford to lie or do nothing when their clients become unhappy. This trend marks a healthy return to common sense: if you want to prosper, make sure you invest into long-term trust-driven relations with your customers backed by genuine, truthful strategic communications.   

Tags: Business Development |

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