The spooky side of recalls

It’s the time of year, the spooky atmosphere of Halloween is in the air. And while ghosts, vampires and monsters are creepy enough, there’s one thing that can truly send a chill up your spine — poorly managed recalls.

Regardless of whether a product is new to market or well established, none are immune to defect. And when a recall strikes, it can have alarming effects on both businesses and consumers. In extreme cases, they have been known to destroy brands and even companies. A poorly managed recall can haunt a business forever.

Given their potential impact, why aren't more businesses recall ready? To some extent, it is because they’re unaware of the scary, and potentially ruinous, consequences a recall can have on their reputation. Part of the problem is a matter of time; product launches can be plagued by chaos, hampering the ability to think beyond the here-and-now. As a result, consideration of product retrieval (should something go awry) can easily be overlooked.

Even stakeholders who believe their organizations are equipped to handle a recall infrequently comprehend what effective recall management requires nor do they regularly review best practices. Although a plan for handling consumers and the media (as well as a rough notion of how internal communications should be managed) may exist, these preparations fall well short of being a ‘strategy’ that will effectively lessen the harm a recall threatens.

Haunting mistakes

‘Trick or treat’ training

With product recalls becoming high-profile occurrences in the news and gaining traction on social media, companies need to adopt a comprehensive recall readiness program. Like trick or treating, you have to know the best route to get the best rewards! It is incumbent upon every employee to be recall ready, and to familiarize themselves with the agreed route each year. If all employees, from receptionists to CEOs, are not clear on what their specific tasks are, the margin for error — and potentially tricky situations for both brand and business — significantly increases.

Plan or premonition?

Having a plan is important but banishing the haunting premonition of what might become of your reputation during a poorly managed recall requires testing. Mock recalls provide an opportunity to rehearse your response in a low-stakes scenario, without posing any ghoulish consequences to your business. If companies fail to test the resilience of their recall plan, they run the risk of identifying weak spots during a live event, which can cause major disruption across the supply chain.

Creepy communications

In the event of a recall, communications between customers, partners and manufacturers can be daunting. Companies should be prepared to handle enquiries and complaints by taking steps in advance to establish a centralized communications hub. This will ensure it can quickly respond to concerns or complaints, reach all parties in possession of dangerous or malfunctioning product, and avert an impending nightmare.

Recalls can scare in many ways, including inadequate traceability and record keeping systems, and sour relationships with regulatory agencies, among others. But those business who are recall ready should only worry about the horrors of Halloween this time of year.

Without fail, companies with a tested product recall plan recover and restore full operation sooner than those without one. That’s because a sound product recall plan enables companies to comply more efficiently with government regulations, sustain internal organizational structure, and maintain trust with customers and consumers, whilst substantially lowering the financial cost of the event itself.

At Sedgwick, our brand protection team helps companies manage mock recalls to mitigate any risk before a product-related event strikes and we can guide our partners in developing best-practice response plans. Because recalls can spook the entire supply chain, planning is imperative to ensure each aspect of the recall proceeds without a fright!

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