Determining responsibilities. Define terms and assign roles and responsibilities. Managers from across the company will be available to handle operations, production, purchasing, customer service, marketing, and finance.
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Developing an online recall flowchart. This becomes the core ingredient of every aspect of recall management.
Messaging. Prepare a variety of messages for each recall class and divide them according to customer, stakeholders, and media. Have templates on hand with a choice of messages, which can easily be modified in a crisis.
Identifying the product locations. It’s the company’s responsibility to know the quantities in production, distribution, and which consumers have them and where they are. This links back to a recall CRM database, and is without doubt, the number one cause of recall announcement delays.
Notifying all affected parties. During a recall, it’s important to follow the appropriate regulatory agencies’ procedures in a timely manner, typically in this order: agency, distribution chain, and then consumer.
Commencing the recall and monitoring its stages. This includes:
- Remove: All efforts made to remove the product from the marketplace.
- Control: Ensuring recalled products do not re-enter the market.
- Dispose: Follow agency or other protocols for disposing of the item.
- Measure recall effectiveness: Check all appropriate actions have been taken and all parties notified, and whether consumer feedback is neutral, negative, or positive.
- Recall termination: Only once all regulatory parties have authorized it.
Conducting and practicing mock recalls on a quarterly basis. This includes:
- Choosing a product for the mock recall.
- Tracing the product from the source to the finished product.
- Verifying communication systems, i.e., emails, address, telephone numbers.
- Documenting each mock recall and modifying the strategy to correct any aspects not factored in.
Preparation is key in recall management, which hasn’t changed in the digital age. However, digital tools help managers respond quicker, limiting brand damage. Still, for many companies, managing a major food recall is now too big a task and the risk too great to tackle it alone. Food recalls come with real costs that can damage the bottom line and destroy a brand. Investing in a partner that can properly manage a recall can often save a company millions of dollars in lost sales and reputational damage.
Remember that all crisis communication strategies should be revised on a regular basis. By ensuring you have digital channel experts in place as part of your crisis management team, your company is already in a good position to defuse any potential damaging situations.
Gillett is CEO of Marketpoint Recall, an international recall response agency. Reach him at pgillett@Mktpoint.com.