How to Build Trust in Your Business During a Crippling Crisis

With COVID restrictions just about lifted around the world, we have entered into an era  where trust is at an all-time low. Adding to the mistrust of governments and mass media, as we climb out of the devastation that seemed to be a two-year pandemic war, businesses are struggling to relearn their place. Learning how to respond to business crisis, both in the short term and the long term will help you build trust and loyalty with your customers and your employees.

Travellers are having a turbulent time with Air CanadaThis month, (July 2022), Air Canada has come under fire for cancelling a multitude of flights, having overbooked and severely misjudged their booking capacity and losing luggage at an unprecedented rate. Rogers Communication lost services in a multi-day outage that left millions of their customers in a telecommunications crisis.

The domino effect of the latter forced Canadian consumers into a tizzy as businesses without internet service were only able to accept cash transactions. But with ATMs being affected, the double-whammy of inconvenience left consumers stranded.

Businesses failing to adapt to some crises, angered customers and suffered sales losses. It is so easy to blame the telecommunication giants for this latest fiasco,  but the truth remains that businesses themselves were unprepared for the disruption.

I know, you might be reading this and saying, ‘But Marc if it wasn’t for Rogers, we wouldn’t have had to turn people away.’ The truth of the matter is that even though Rogers was the root cause of the disruption, businesses have the responsibility to their customers, their employees and their bottom lines to be prepared for such an eventuality.

Notice I said “eventuality.”

Disruptions to our businesses are not a matter IF they will happen as much as it is, WHEN they will happen. And how we respond to them will dictate if we build or crush our customers’ loyalty and the trust they put in us.

Overcoming a crisis in one’s business, by focussing on the eventuality of crisis and ensuring that we have plans in place will help us build trust with our customers.

Things will break. This is a certainty. It could be a breaker, a transformer, and piece of equipment, or your plumbing or your internet goes down. You could be faced with a natural disaster, a civil uprising, or a war.

Here are a few things you can do to prepare.

Bringing your team together to brainstorm risks to your business is invaluable.1. Work with your team

List out where your vulnerabilities are. A simple brainstorming exercise can help you do this. Using different coloured post-it notes™, divide vulnerabilities into people, processes and property… if you love these exercises as much as I do, you can even colour code sub-topics for each.

In this exercise, nothing is off-limits. Honestly, does it matter that someone writes, ‘Alien invasion, or a loss of gravity?’ nope, it doesn’t. Because there is the next step.

2. Classify each idea. 

By classifying each idea, we have the ability to sort and rank the importance of each. Classifying each piece of feedback into a “risk” category and a “likelihood” category will allow us to code each idea and thought and rank them appropriately as we define appropriate strategies.

Risk Category

Starting with the “risk” category, assign a Level 1 to 4 for each idea.

Level 1

The highest level of crisis, with huge implications for the safety of people and the viability of the business. (Fire, natural disaster, ransomware attack, alien invasion)

Level 2

Moderate potential risk to business operations, customer or employee success or even the company’s brand and reputation. (Infrastructure failures like power outages, internet failures, major equipment failures, or employees walking out)

Level 3

Issues have minimal impact on the long-term business operation or employee/customer success. (Internet and social media reviews, basic customer issues, minor staffing issue)

Level 4

Issues are what I like to call hiccup issues. They are minor inconveniences which are slightly more intense than our day-to-day operations.

Likelihood Category

The ‘likelihood’ category defines how likely the issue will arise. I like to use a rating of A (most likely) to D (next to impossible). 

By the time you are done, you will have a ton of ideas rated with a number and letter. For instance, the internet going down will rate as a 2B, someone knocking over a display might be a 4C, and an Alien invasion might be a 1D.

3. Brainstorm what can be done to de-escalate each of the points. 

Having equipment and processes in place for the inevitable failures will be a saving grace for your business and your customer satisfaction.Reducing the likelihood of an incident and reducing its severity is the next priority. For instance, in a retail environment, having the internet go down, which we rated as a severity level of 2 (really hurts) and a high likelihood (B), can be mitigated by having one of those old-time credit card imprinters with the carbon copy paper receipts. Not ideal, but it can reduce the severity to Level 4.

Another example could be someone getting electrocuted by the floor washing machine (it’s happened). The severity is Level 1, the likelihood is a C (keep in mind that the likelihood could escalate with the age of the machine). Having a preventative maintenance schedule can reduce the likelihood of a D. I suggest having a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety program, wherever people and processes are concerned.

Develop a communications plan.Getting the word out quickly will build trust with your team and your customers.

In both the Air Canada example and the Rogers example, what infuriated people the most, aside from the companies not fulfilling their service promise, was that the companies kept the public in the dark for far too long, with no communication as to what the plan of action was.

Human beings will forgive a lot. But we have been so tainted over the decades with misinformation, spin, and political manipulation that any delay in communication is seen as a huge breach of trust.

A comprehensive communication plan defines who is responsible for communication and when…. Here’s a hint…. The bigger the level of severity, the faster and more frequent the message has to come, the broader it has to reach, and the higher up the chain of command it has to come from.

Creating a crisis and communication plan, centred on the well-being of your customers and employees will go a long way to reinforcing the trust people have put into you and help you sustain that loyalty as the brand of choice.

If you would like to take control, so future crises won’t control you, and you need a hand, book a 30 minute discovery call with Marc.


About the Author

Getting help to face future crisis might be the answer.

Marc Haine

Marc Haine is a Service Expert and a Master of Experience. He is a sought-after speaker and trainer working with businesses that need to attract and engage their best customers. Driven by his passion for creating experiences that rock, Marc has worked with retail, casinos, hotels, associations and municipalities to help them design jaw-dropping experiences that get them noticed.

Marc knows what it takes for businesses to exceed experience expectations–The first step, each day, as you open your doors to the public, have you and your staff yell, “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
Marc is one of the world’s foremost authorities on customer journey experience touchpoints and is the author of LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Business Operational Excellence through the Lens of Live Theatre (Check out the new way of looking at your business HERE).
Marc is offering a free 30-minute brainstorming session with you and your team. Click Here to book a time that works for you on his online calendar.
Dare to be the exception™

Marc is a service expert and a master of experiences. He's also an author, speaker, facilitator and coach. He will help your teams ignite their passions, enable your leaders to recentre their focus, and drive continuous improvement through connected and engaged employees. This will allow you to realize your competitive advantage with a connected purpose and consistency of customer experience across your brand. He will dare your people to cultivate a generous attitude and lead with love and kindness first.

Shared Experiences

Lyndi Hamon

Marc gave a really great presentation. He was engaging, relatable and has a great sense of humour, I was laughing throughout the presentation.

He seems to understand the clientele well, what to expect, and how to find points of improvement and relatability.

Overall I would give his presentation high ratings, I think this kind of client-focused training is important for any business to learn.
Lyndi Hamon, Electrologist, Event Attendee
Dr. Danie Botha
"Marc’s Leverage Design Thinking for Your Next Live Event workshop was a real game changer. Going into the 3-hour session as a “skeptic,” I left a “believer.” The fast-paced, hands-on approach and Marc’s enthusiasm, insight, and knowledge helped our group change how we now prepare for our next live event."
Danie Botha, Physician, Author, Speaker
I recently attended a brainstorming session that Marc conducted for the CAFP. Not only did Marc structure it in such a way that within an hour we had a list of valuable takeaways that I had thought would take at least three hours to uncover, but his level of engagement and energy, and use of humour meant that we ended up with excellent outcomes AND had a lot of fun along the way.
Kim McQuaite, Kim Communications
Marc’s breakout session was very informative, enjoyable, and presented in a humorous way. I recommend it highly.
Eva Bencsik, Mr. Printer
I thought his presentation was very informative and provided a lot of insight into problem-solving in regards to some of the issues our industry deals with, specifically with clients.

He was a great speaker and enjoyed it very much, I feel as though Marc has had a lot of experience in the business industry and is genuine in wanting to help others with their businesses.

He had a few funny moments we all enjoyed too! I felt there was value in his presentation/training because I was able to relate and use it towards both of the businesses I have, Electrolysis and my Skincare line.
Susanne Bodevin, Director
I just came out of Marc’s session on how to become an empathetic leader. I chose his session because as a manager, I get so caught up with my day-to-day responsibilities, that I have not been present with my team. Marc’s session today gave me strategies and systems to help me be more present, and more sensitive to the needs of my people.
Tracey Durant, South-Side Sobey’s
A few years ago I attended one of Marc’s workshops with a number of my front line employees. We found the session helpful not only with dealing with difficult customers but our people felt they also applied the techniques to their everyday lives and with fellow staff members in resolving conflicts. Marc made the group feel comfortable enough to share stories and experiences as well as tactics that had worked for them in the past. I have attended many similar events where people were never as forthcoming as we experienced here. The material was pertinent and topical and Marc was able to make it relevant to everyone in the room. I have always prided myself on being a good conflict arbitrator and still today find that I am able to utilize many of the ideas and techniques we learned in Marc’s session.
Jeff Millar, IGA Garden Markets
Marc's Dealing with Difficult People strategies and content were so valuable I was able to successfully put them into practice the very next day while dealing with an irate citizen. He was happy, I was happy - made for a great day!
Tracy Preece, Bylaw Officer (former), Town of Devon
Marc Haine is emerging as one of the best motivational and inspirational speakers in Alberta. He is a masterful presenter and engages his audience with a positive and uplifting message. His trademark is "Dare to be the exception", and for groups and organizations that need to think - and act - "outside the box" should not hesitate to have Marc as their keynote speaker
Judge Brian Stevenson, Past International President, Lions Clubs International

Client Highlights

Transform your level of service

Let’s explore what Marc can do for you and your organization.

Book A 30 Min Consult

Book Marc for your next event

Discover which one of Marc’s topics will be the best fit for your event.

See Marc's Speaking Topics