The maxim that ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ is particularly true when it comes to time-critical communication. Companies that take the time to formulate an effective rapid response framework can save both thousands of pounds and potential reputational risk.
Nino Sheikh-Thompkins, from Paragon Customer Communications, outlines how expert guidance can turn a potentially damaging situation into an opportunity to forge a better relationship with customers.
Be prepared to expect the unexpected
The advent of new legislation has generated an increased focus on how companies communicate with their customers. An integral part of this is rapid response communication – when a security breach, for instance, occurs or when there is a sizeable change in interest rates could have a far-reaching effect on a business.
Legislation focused on regulatory reform, such as the MIFID II – due to come into force in January – and the General Data Protection Regulation, which becomes law in May 2018, require businesses to have a clear strategy in place to ensure customers can be reached swiftly and effectively.
Regardless of statutory changes, there are a variety reasons why a business may need to communicate swiftly with customers. These include communicating unforeseen events such as price increases or sudden interest rate rises, to help clients better understand how they will be affected.
This is particularly pertinent in the financial sector, where engaged and informed customers are an important part of a well-functioning market; and to achieve this, people need access to appropriate information so they can make empowered decisions.
While some organisations may already have a rapid response plan in place which can be invoked as necessary, many others may have little or no experience of writing and distributing time-critical alerts.
Formulating a suitable, effective and detailed rapid response strategy may seem like a gargantuan task; however, extensive pressure will be put on resources to meet required deadlines if acting reactively. Without forward planning, the costs of delivery are likely to be increased by thousands of pounds – and up to around £120,000 in some cases.
The risk of using an ineffective or inappropriate method of communication is high, leading to further delays as a second wave of messages is sent and resulting in annoyance and confusion for the customer.
When time is of the essence
There are many options currently available, and new technology that can be employed to provide a rapid response alert in response to unforeseen circumstances is constantly being developed.
Choosing the most appropriate channel is a key factor in ensuring that seamless communication is achieved. Some organisations will have clients who have already expressed a preference on what form of message they prefer to receive, and this needs to be taken into account.
• SMS messages;
• Email communication;
• Printed letters distributed in the mail;
• A combination of all of the above.
Needless to say, in the event of a security breach, time is of the essence. The creation of pre-prepared, multi-channel templates, ready to be issued to customers with a tailored message, will save valuable time to comply with the 72-hour response deadline.
Is it achievable?
Many businesses may find their existing channels will not be adequate to deliver all aspects of an effective rapid response communication. A robust system will not only dispatch messages, but accurately trace their progress to ensure all customers have been reached within the right timeframe.
Working with a communications specialist will ensure both legal requirements and customer expectations are met. Leading experts will be able to manage any concerns surrounding accuracy, traceability and time frames. In fact, options exist for messages to be automatically deployed to a certain audience in the event that specific conditions are met – particularly pertinent in relation to the MIFID II 10% threshold rule.
An experienced rapid response provider will help organisations plan what action is required, create a choice of templates which can be swiftly edited as required, then trigger the delivery of the message, tracking, reporting and archiving as necessary. This will reduce the impact on the customer and preserve the integrity of the organisation, regardless of the scenario.
In summary, businesses assessing their existing provision should ask themselves:
• Can my current communication provider handle the multi-channel scale of my entire customer base?
• Do I know how best to communicate to each of my clients, balancing their preferences with regulatory requirements?
• Can the progress of each communication be traced, to ensure it is delivered within the necessary timeframe?
If the answer to any or all of these is ‘no’, it’s time to consult a communications expert to help plan, create and deliver an effective rapid response communications framework.