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Is your company ready for a website crisis?

By Heather M. Hilliard

4103162425_796fe591cb_b-044336-edited.jpg3 ways Macy’s effectively handled its Black Friday virtual traffic jam

According to data collected by Adobe Digital Insights, Black Friday sales hit a record $3.34 billion in e-commerce. This marked the first time sales surpassed $3 billion. Successful companies know they must provide an optimum online shopping experience for consumers (75 percent of worldwide shoppers will abandon a company’s site if it’s buggy, slow or prone to crashes) and that includes preparing months in advance for the busiest shopping days of the year.

Top U.S. department store chain Macy’s suffered unfortunate IT failures on Friday that left online shoppers unable to access its website for a good part of the day. Considering the record-breaking Black Friday cyber sales, it’s an achievement for the Macy’s public relations team that Friday’s IT issues didn’t lead to more significant financial loss.

Great PR teams always consider expectations and the “what if” scenarios. Preparation is a critical step. The Macy’s PR team helped mitigate negative perceptions and reduced financial loss with their quick response.

Make sure your company is ready for heavy web traffic the next thirty days (and beyond) by doing what Macy’s did right.

What Macy’s did right

  1. Offered appropriate messaging about the problem.

Some shoppers received a message from Macy’s not only apologizing for the delay, but also providing a customer service number to complete purchases via telephone, ensuring enough representatives were available so there wasn’t a delay there too.

  1. Provided rapid and accurate information to media.

Take your message to big media outlets. Macy’s talked with CNBC to offer facts, timeframes and actions it was taking. The message was then easily distributed via news websites and social media.

  1. Extended special discounts for shoppers.

It likely wasn’t its original plan, but Macy’s met customers’ expectations by extending its discounts, even if it took a little longer for some customers to complete a sale.

By preparing for things that have happened before (either to your company or other corporations), you can improve your company’s image when it matters most – in times of frustration for customers. Make sure you have the right PR staffing model by using the  Axia PR departmental costs online tool to ensure that you are ready for what comes next.

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heather-new.jpgHeather M. Hilliard is a marketing and strategic planning professional with expertise in crisis management communications. With two master’s degrees and her international Certified Emergency Manager credential, she has worked through disasters as well as “normal business” to offset the impact of both large- and small-scale events in a variety of industries. She is an adjunct professor at Tulane University and has worked for Axia Public Relations since December 2015. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapror tell us what you think in the comments below.





Featured image credit: Creative Commons

Topics: public relations, crisis communications, shared media

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