Crisis Management

One of my colleagues from another team noticed an error in the system. The error will cause impact to some of the customers. As usual, the relevant parties are informed about the problem. Even though there has been no customers complains yet, everyone had already begin the crisis management.

When crisis like this happen, the operations department will usually be in charge of the overall coordination.
For the IT department, our role is to fix the error immediately to prevent more customers from being affected. Once the error has been fixed, we will scan thru the entire database for the list of affected customer. This list is submitted to the top management.

While the IT department is working on fixing the error, the customer service department is being informed about this problem to prepare them for customer complaints. Standard FAQ and instructions on how to handle customer complains and queries are being send to all customer service officers.
Account Managers are also informed so that they can be prepared in case their customers approach them regarding the issue.

At the same time, the top management is having discussion of the impact of this error, preventive measures and the possible of some good will gestures to customer like writing off charges.

All these are being done before the first customer complain comes in.

After some investigation, we discovered that no customer has been impacted by the error. We were lucky this time round. That was a close shave. And so, everyone went back to do their usual job, until the next crisis pops up.

Sometimes, I’m glad that my first job is in such a big company. You can really learn a lot about business operation in a big company like this. The things I’ve learn here will be useful to me in the future. Crisis like this can happen no matter how many checks you have in place. Reputation is everything. Losses can be recouped easily in the future if your reputation is still intact after the crisis. Everything can be lost except reputation.

Small companies can also learn a trick or two from the big companies. Although small companies don’t have much manpower, the fundamental in business is the same. Instead of many people tackling a single issue, small company will have one or two person. But regardless the size of the company, the role is still the same when a crisis occurs.

Fix the problem. Minimize the impact. Repair the damage.
Protect your reputation at all cost.


  1. Good advice that certainly works for all organisations. What’s even more critical is when the changes impact customers, both internal and external.

    I noticed that you didn’t highlight finger pointing and blaming, which unfortunately tend to be the case in certain organisations. Like you, I firmly believe that one should quickly get to the bottom of things and solve the problems as soon as possible. The inquisition can come later.

  2. Anon: Not really. I think its too late for them to read this. That is why I didn’t mention them in the article. Cause it is not meant for them. This article would be useful to them last weekend. But its too late for them now.

    Damage has been done. They need another method to pull themselves out.

    Cool insider: Finger pointing usually happens at later stage. At initial stage, there is no time for finger pointing.

    It will also happen, especially in large organisation. But as the management, their role is to ensure that fingerpoint stage only occur when everything is resolved.

  3. DK, a group of us (15 of us) have pulled out of nuffnang leaving whatever pathetic money that we have in there with no chance to get it out.

    We are very upset about nuffnang silence. It is deafening now with their heck care attitude.

  4. So the point being, it’s pointless to have 200 billions check after that. It’s about getting it right the first time. Some times, all these checks thereafter is creating the false impression that whatever jobs will be check by whoever and whatever that the task was done sloppily.

  5. Gizmore: Its hard to get thing right the first time. Accidents do happen.

    And no, I don’t think people will be sloppy if there are more checks.

    It’s just another safety net.

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