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CWA 17514:2020. Objective Assessment of Innovative Solutions for Crisis Management Explained

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CWA 17514: 2020 is a document developed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to be used as a guideline. Its purpose, is as the title explains, for crisis management in the workplace.

As a person employed in the customer service industry, which, as we know, is one of the most important pillars that supports organization’s success, I can see how this guideline would be a useful tool towards improving the overall quality and standard of my job.

CWA 17514:2020 establishes objective criteria and a series of techniques in order to assess a crisis situation, and if needed suggest improvement to it. All this is done in a standardized way, which allows more quality, impartiality, transparency and objectivity.

The document is intended to be used by all levels of management, from the executive supervisors to the low-level-managers, so that they can be trained and educated on how to develop their skills in all crisis situations. It also can be used by internal and external members who are involved in the crisis management, whether they are responsible for directly enabling the effective emergency process, or they are responsible in providing information during the situation.

Before addressing more into detail the document, it is important to understand what the word “crisis” means. For this, a different source is needed, so I decided to look up the word in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. I will present below a definition that I found.

A time when there is danger, confusion, or difficult problems to be dealt with; a sudden situation in which you must make important decisions; an important problem

Defining a crisis as a sudden situation in which an important problem should be solved, it strengthens two very important pillars that an organization relies on.

The first one relies on the definition of “important”, if this definition is not properly understood, its implementation can lead to ineffective conclusions and solutions that question productivity and efficiency. For instance, if the situation is a fire, and the company places a low bar for importance, they will not use their time efficiently and can underestimate the problem and with it the indicated response.

The second definition of crisis brings to light a very important pillar that organizations need to take into account. It presents time, and the way an organization reacts to a crisis will be, to a great extent, determined by the time they have to prepare for it. Time is of the essence in an organization and effectively managing it can make or break it.

The CWA 17514:2020 stresses a phrase that ca be translated into “Crisis management is a process”. The procedures are described in the document as follows:

Crisis Management is a process that includes:

  1. Planning;
  2. Detection;
  3. Control;
  4. Response; and
  5. Recovery.

The order is important.

Crisis Management must start with planning. This is fundamental for an organization because it provides the structured way to deal with all eventualities, and more important allows the organization to plan for the incident that may arise and respond in the most effective way possible.

The detection phase of the crisis management is commonly overlooked, mainly because the urgency of the situation makes hard to have a certain amount of calmness to be able to detect the possible crisis. During this phase, signs must be looked for to finally identify them as a crisis. Once detected, the detection of a crisis will give the organization time to prepare and manage the possible response and recovery processes.

The response phase is in fact the solution to the problem and every effort must be made in this phase to solve the problem as fast as possible, since the importance of time grows in this phase of the crisis.

Finally, in the last phase of the crisis management process, we find the recovery. This is done to evaluate and check the effectiveness of the response.

The direct application of CWA 17514:2020 in the Customer Service industry, can be in many ways. If properly applied it can improve the quality, effectiveness and satisfaction of the services provided to the client.

Clients are increasingly getting saturated with advertisements, and tend to accept and rely only on online information and reviews. Online reviews are based solely on complaints or negative opinions that can create a false image of a company. On the other hand, if a company receives good reviews, it is likely to attract customers who are very demanding and tend to look for information that their expectations have not been met.

In this regard, a crisis in customer service can be described as a complaint that is left either on Facebook, Google, Yelp or any online platform that focuses on providing consumer reviews on products and services. For example, a restaurant receives a bad review on Yelp. The business is hit hard by a bad review and there is no solution but to acknowledge it, since the review is already online.

To recover from that type of crisis, a company can simply call the person who left the opinion, apologize for the error of service and offer the person a gift or discount for his next meal. If done appropriately it will be more than enough to repair any damages done by the faulty review.

The effective crisis management improves the overall customer experience, which is very important for the success of any kind of business. Good Customer Service always pays off by reducing the cost of that service, the costs of lost customers. Poor customer service usually creates bad reputation, disillusionment and people suppress their willingness to buy your products or services, which inevitably leads to a reduction of sales and possibly bankruptcy.

The purpose of this guideline’s document is to develop skills that are necessary to approach crisis management in a more organized and effective way. By developing these skills the overall competence of an organization can be improved. By analyzing a case in which I can apply the standards of that guideline to a situation, I have found the following scenario:

Laura, an unsatisfied customer, complains about the poor service she received while on vacation at the hotel in which she was staying. Laura has posted a negative review on a website that mentions hotels worldwide. Her review was in a very serious tone, which could have generated a negative image of the tourism business in a city the hotel resides. Laura’s review, however, has been received by the hotel.

The solution to the crisis was the effective application of CWA 17514:2020. By understanding the situation, which is very important for doing a good job.

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