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Learn the Rules of Being Crisis Ready

Are you ready for a customer service or brand crisis?

Shep Hyken discusses handling and preparing for a customer service or brand crisis with Melissa Agnes, the author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World.

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Top Takeaways:

  • Melissa explains that ever since she was a kid in Montreal, she’s had the ability to spot and mitigate potential risk. This skill came into play ten years ago when social media first began to rise. While everyone was talking about how great social media was, her mind immediately thought of the risks it presented. She calls this her “a-ha” moment.
  • Being “crisis ready” means:
    • The entire organization knows what risk looks like and how to detect it.
    • They understand how to assess the impact of risks on their brand: is it a crisis or is it an issue?
    • They can manage the crisis in a manner that still builds stakeholder trust and credibility.
  • A crisis is a negative event stopping business-as-usual because it extends to the top of the organization and has potentially long-term negative impact on people, the environment, business operations, the organization’s reputation, and/or the organization’s bottom line. An issue, however, does not have the risk of a long-term impact. While an issue can go viral, it does not necessarily become a crisis.
  • Crisis Response Penalty (CRP), a term coined by Melissa, looks at the short-term and long-term monetary and reputation impact a crisis has on a brand due to that brand’s poor and ineffective response. The longer it takes for a business to provide an effective response, the more credibility and trust you lose, the more control of the narrative you lose, and the higher CRP you have.
  • In order to become crisis ready for something that has not occurred before, Melissa says though we cannot predict exactly how a situation will happen, we can consider the possibilities of a high-risk scenario where an employee goes rogue or does something wrong that can potentially go viral. For example, an employee may be involved with a sexual harassment issue or make an inappropriate response to a social media post. Additionally, taking societal trends into consideration, including the staggering amount of racial discrimination occurring in retail, coffee shops, etc., allows a business to know the likelihood that something will go wrong or against the brand’s values.
  • To respond to a crisis in a way that is emotionally intelligent, a business must put people first.
  • There is no circumstance when “no comment” is an acceptable response. It goes completely against putting the customer first. A “no comment” response can lead to mistrust and cause customers to choose another brand. If you are crisis-prepared, you already have a comment ready.


“One of the crisis ready rules is always assume there is video.” – Melissa Agnes

“A fast response is the best response if it’s an emotionally intelligent response.” – Melissa Agnes

“What does ‘no comment’ say? ‘No comment’ says we don’t care about you enough to put you first, to communicate with you.” – Melissa Agnes

“People understand laws, they understand regulations, they understand restrictions. What they want to know is that you care.” – Melissa Agnes


Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis management and preparedness. Her book, Crisis Ready, published in March 2018, details how organizations can implement a crisis ready culture.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. What does it mean to be “crisis ready”?
  2. What is the difference between an issue and a crisis?
  3. What is a crisis response penalty?
  4. How can your business prepare for a potential crisis?
  5. How do you become crisis ready for something that has never happened before?
  6. How long should you wait to respond to a crisis?
  7. Is it ever okay to say, “no comment”?

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