Zaremba (2010) points out that “crisis is any unanticipated event, incident, situation, or development that has the potential to damage or destroy your organization’s reputation”. (P.234) This definition indicates two attributes of crisis: unexpectedness and destructiveness, so effective communication is crucial to manage a crisis. The Nuance Group, a successful management consulting company, with a reputation of experienced and highly educated consultants, was facing the crisis brought by its great “reputation”. As a consultancy, it’s their profession to market themselves.
A glossy brochure with specific introduction of consultants’ information, which is the highlight of the company’s reputation, is a fabulous method to market the company service. However, inaccurate biography caused the sever distrust among its customers and influenced their business severely. The reasons which caused a so severe crisis were various. I conclude that there were two important factors which led to the crisis so severe. Widespread and high-speed transmission
Widespread information about the Nuance Group’s fake bios will not only impair their existing clients, but also influence the choice of potential clients.
On the one hand, with the development of emerging media such as internet and mobile media, the scope and speed of information transmission increased a lot, which facilitated the range of the transmission of crisis and resulted in extensive damage to the corporation. The existing clients would definitely doubt Nuance’s integrity and reconsider their cooperation. On the other hand, large-scale transmission of brochures carrying fake bios means large-scale potential clients would distrust the Nuance Group and then would refuse their service. Giving out brochures extensively to potential clients and supplying unlimited download PDF file could attract more clients initially. However, with information from fake bios, the good intention was converted into destruction. As a consequence, Nuance’s existing clients, potential clients and competitors and even the whole industry would treat the Nuance Group as a liar. We could imagine the decline of the Nuance Group. Sudden outburst
The crisis always happens unexpectedly and an early-warning system for crisis is necessary for corporate to prevent the crisis. In the case, the Nuance Group faced the problem without any preparation. The problem was exposed by their potential client rather than their self-checking system. And after this crisis happened, the executives started to find out fake bios were not single, it was a common phenomenon among the company. If Nuance had a regular self-check system and an updated crisis communication plan, they would find the problem previously and take steps to control the crisis. From Nuance’s crisis, we could find that the Nuance group shared a strong culture of supremacy of corporate interests. If the fake bios are single phenomena, we could assume that it was just one employee who wanted to embellish himself and gained more clients. However, it is common. Why were almost all consultants in the company willing to lie and were permitted to revise their biographies. Why did Jack respond his superior without guilt and explanation? There is only one reason. The employees were acquiesced to do whatever beneficial for the company by the company culture.
From the point of view outside, we may judge the embellishment of biographies as unethical behavior because different people hold different values and we may become victims of this hoax. However, if we are internal staff members, we may consider it is ethical from the prospective of organizational pragmatics. As Zaremba (2012) said, “It is right to do what is good for the company” (p.94) Thinking about normalization of deviance theory， which could be applied to the formation of fake bios, at first, when the consultant introduced themselves and their experience to the client who wanted to get the trust of the client, he would say he had been responsible for the famous case XXX. In fact he was just involved in the case and did some trivial jobs. When this kind of exaggeration was acquiesced to do by the superior who also want to gain more clients for the first time, he would think that’s OK and tried another time, although he knew he lied. After many instances of neglect by the superior, the consultant would not think his behavior was unethical and believe it was normal. As a consequence, more and more employees chose to embellish their biography because they believed this kind of behavior is good for the company. Part2
The first 48 hours after the outburst of crisis is the prime time to reduce destruction of the crisis and restore the reputation of the corporation, so when to react and how to react are crucial for crisis communication. As for the Nuance case, the company needs to take the following steps to deal with the crisis. 1. Establish crisis communication team and designate the leader and spokesperson After the crisis emerged, the company needs to establish a crisis communication team first. The team must consist of directors from various departments and high-level executives, especially CEO and crisis management experts. In this team, it is crucial to have a leader who could mobilize resources, make a decision and be responsible for all decisions. Everyone in the team is responsible for a unique issue. 2. Investigate the fact and make a crisis communication plan Then the team needs to investigate the issue clearly as fast as possible because time is as expensive as oil in crisis management. Then the team needs tomake an elaborate crisis communication plan to address the crisis. In the plan, they need to identify the stakeholders and decide the sequence of communication audiences and what information should be released and how to release information. 3. Communicate with internal stakeholders
There are two steps to communicate with internal stakeholders. One is to announce the fact of the issue to internal staff members in first time and brief them the company’s crisis management strategies to make sure that all staff will speak with one voice to the outside. From my experience as a PR, all information is in the confusion in the first 48 hours. Not only will outsiders speculate what happens, but also internal staff members will be confused by the crisis and loss heart to the company, so it is crucial to guarantee that all information spread to the outside are consistent and employees know the fact clearly. Rumor can ruin any success. Face to face, as the richest media, can deliver the information from superior to subordinates powerfully and get feedback immediately. The other thing is to separate internal staff members into employees with fake bios and employees with true bios and people who are irrelevant to the issue. For consultants who have embellished their biographies, they need to be arranged to apologize to all their clients and be punished. For consultants who did not do this, they need to be informed the company’s attitude to this issue and be awarded for their integrity to set an example. This is also the process to build a new culture with responsibility and credibility. For those who
were irrelevant to the issue, what they need to be informed is how to behave in their work ethically. It is better to communicate with all these staff members face to face if it is possible, and telephone is also a good choice because direct conversation could convey information without uncertainty or equivocality. 4. communicate with clients
Clients are the most important stakeholders because they are the biggest victims in this issue and their attitudes towards the company directly influence the benefits of the company. For existing clients, the company needs to tell them the fact and apologize to them in first time. It’s better to comfort them before the issue is exposed by the media. Because once the media expose the issue to public, the company could not guide the public voice and manage the initiative any more. Every consultant needs to apologize to the clients whom they are responsible for face to face and bring them the apology letter written by the CEO. They also need to inform their remedial measure to the clients sincerely. As for potential clients, the company needs to send them the apology letter and tell them the truth in first time, too. The company also needs to update their brochures with correct information and sincere apology and then mail updated brochures to the potential clients. 5. communicate with media
The company also needs to communicate with the media initially and release the fact of the issue, apology and remedial measures with all kinds of media channel such as newspapers, internet, television and social media. The attitude of the media decides the attitude of the public. In other word, what information the media released will decide the reputation of the company. All the crisis communication process stated above must be sincere, transparent and honest. Impropriate words and deeds at this special moment would stir up bigger crisis. Attitude in the first 48 hours decides all. In addition, if I were the executive of Nuance, I would definitely establish an early-warning system for the crisis. For example, I would like to monitor the health condition of the company regularly and employ clipping service to assess media reaction. And then I will establish a crisis communication team and make a crisis communication plan and update it regularly. Some relevant documents need to be prepared in advance, which will save a lot of time and
effort to strive for more time in the crisis. At daily work, I would train my employees the knowledge of how to deal with sudden condition and how to respond to the crisis and the media. I could not guarantee that this method can avoid all crises. However, once the crisis happens, we can manage it unhurriedly and reduce loss as much as possible.
Cite this Crisis analysis of the Nuance Group
Crisis analysis of the Nuance Group. (2016, Oct 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/crisis-analysis-of-the-nuance-group/