by Zoe Zorka
In a perfect world, running a business would be relatively straightforward. With enough research, caution, and dedication, businesses would always flourish, enjoying nothing but smooth waters for years on end.
Sadly, every business will, at some point, run into choppy water - and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it. It is simply impossible to avoid every potential pitfall, to always delight your customers, to never have to deal with staffing issues; if it were possible to guard against every problem that can befall a business, no business would ever fail. Given that businesses do fail, despite the dedication of their owners, it is crucial for any business owner to accept that problems will arise.
However, while these issues can, do, and will happen, what ultimately matters most is how you respond to them. Below, we have detailed five tough issues that any business can face at any time and - most importantly of all - how you can ensure you have the right plans in place to manage these issues when they inevitably occur.
#1 - The cybersecurity breach
It is a sad truth that cybersecurity breaches are a fact of life for modern businesses. No matter how large or small your organization, the chances are that, at some point, an incident of some kind will occur; there’s no way of predicting what that incident will be, but you can be fairly certain something will eventually happen.
While it is always vital to ensure that your business network is as robust and secure as possible, the high likelihood of a breach means that you’ll also need a reliable cyber security incident checklist to plan your response should the worst case scenario come to pass. It’s helpful to remember that breaches can be fixed, so while you will need to take swift action to rectify the problem, having a plan in place to manage the issue can help to ensure the issue is entirely controlled.
#2 - The furious customer
Even with the best will in the world, you will never be able to satisfy all of your customers all of the time. Some customers will be quietly disappointed, and may choose never to patronise your business again, while others will be… a little more forthright.
Dealing with a furiously angry customer is never a pleasant experience, especially when all you will want to do is defuse and remedy the situation. However, it’s essential to ensure that you - and all of your customer-facing staff - know what to do when confronted by an angry customer. It’s also important to put the theory into practice, asking your friends to play the role of the customer while you work on honing your calming techniques.
In some instances, managing an angry customer won’t need to be done person-to-person; you’ll receive an email or social media notification instead. Unfortunately, there’s no way of preparing for this; if you pre-write stock apology responses, customers will notice, and they’re more likely to be further angered than mollified by what would be deemed a “generic response”. It’s therefore best to always ask to contact a customer by phone if they are unhappy; the customer will appreciate the service level, and you’re far more likely - keeping the tips above in mind - to be able to guide the situation to a satisfactory outcome.
#3 - The staffing crisis
Even if your business has a low rate of staff turnover, staffing crises can still happen - and happen suddenly, too. All it takes is for a few members of staff to be off sick at the same time for your business’ operations to threaten to grind to a halt.
Thankfully, there are a number of solutions to this issue. The simplest is to maintain a good relationship with a nearby temp agency, so the moment you see a staffing crisis develop, you can make a simple phone call and be confident you’ll have the staff you need as soon as possible. Alternatively - or additionally if you prefer - you can keep a list of potential cover staff; this could be former employees who are happy to return for a day or two, previous job applicants who may be able to step in if required, or - if appropriate for your business - capable freelancers you can work with on an as-and-when basis. Whichever method you choose, it is vitally important to ensure that you can always keep your business running even when faced with multiple staff absences.
There are some issues in business that cannot be prevented, but the tips above should help to ensure your business can be prepared for these issues. With proper preparation, you can swiftly and effectively rectify the matter, and get your business back to normal in the shortest possible time.