Crisis communication plans make your business more resilient to external forces and more adaptable in the face of internal mistakes. Since millions of things could go wrong in any business, this task is not easy to get right. In fact, according to a study by PwC, 96% of organizations have experienced disruption in the past two years.

💡 Read Crisis Management 101: How to Save Your Business When a Crisis Strikes

Effective crisis communication takes quick thinking, effective action, and clear roles and responsibilities. Here, we’ll outline ten key metrics that you should track to get the most out of your communications plan and safeguard against risks. 

What Is Crisis Management?

Crisis management is all about how you tackle unexpected situations that pose a threat to your business, your stakeholders, and the wider public. As a process, crisis management requires taking a holistic view of risk. You need to anticipate where dangers could arise, how you’ll respond to them, and what you can learn for the future.

Read 3 Powerful Good Crisis Management Examples

For instance, if a data breach occurs, crisis management involves immediate actions like shutting down systems and communicating with affected parties. However, it also takes a proactive rethink of your strategy to ensure a similar breach never happens again.

Determ’s crisis reporting system

Elements of an Effective Crisis Management Plan

A solid crisis management plan is your blueprint for averting disaster. Here’s what you need:

Clear roles and responsibilities 

Everyone needs to know their part in a crisis so you can coordinate a swift response. Plus, it establishes a clear system of accountability for post-crisis lesson-learning.

PR Crisis Management Ebook

Communication strategy 

In a crisis, your employees must know how to represent your business when speaking with employees, stakeholders, and the public. This is such an ingrained principle that call scripts are now a core feature of a call center software.

Risk identification 

Understanding the biggest PR risks is key to prepping your workforce for topics that may come up in communication with stakeholders.

Response procedures 

These are step-by-step actions for different scenarios. If X happens, we do Y — e.g. if you smell smoke, you raise the alarm, evacuate the building, get to the assembly point, etc.

Revisions to your crisis plan 

The world changes, and so should your plan. Regular reviews keep you ready for anything — whether a security flaw in your system or a global pandemic that forces your operations to go remote overnight.

The right tools

Effective crisis management means empowering your team with the best tools for crisis management. For example, Determ’s online media monitoring allows you to follow what’s being said about your business and react fast to any problems. You can also track and analyze the public response to a crisis and your management of it.

Why It’s Crucial To Evaluate Crisis Management results

Evaluating your crisis communication efforts is crucial because what looks good on paper might not hold up in real life. By looking into the data, you’re essentially giving your crisis plan a stress test — exposing which crisis management strategies worked and which need to be tweaked. 

Every business needs to do this. Market conditions change constantly, and new risks emerge that you couldn’t have predicted. Even if you followed your crisis communication plan 99% accurately, there are still lessons that can inform your training programs to better protect your brand reputation.

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

10 Key Metrics for Crisis Communications Management

1) Preparing and planning for crisis

To plan for when things go south, you’ll want to track these KPIs to have peace of mind that your team understands and is engaging with the crisis:

Crisis response training completion rate

The first step in crisis preparation is to ensure your employees are educated on the steps involved and their roles.

You can measure their preparedness by tracking your crisis response training completion rate. This KPI shows the percentage of employees who’ve finished their crisis management training. 

Unlike the broader training/onboarding attendance rates, this KPI focuses strictly on who is well-versed in your crisis response plans and knows what to do in an emergency. You should aim to create different crisis management lessons for the PIC (person-in-charge) and regular employees. 

Crisis simulation exercise effectiveness

So, your team has completed the training, but how well could they handle the real thing?

A good way to gauge this is to host crisis simulations and measure individual employee responses. Make sure to set clear objectives for your drills — and then you can measure KPIs like decision-making speed or communication clarity. 

After the exercise, rate performance against these goals on a scale. A high score signals your team is not just going through the motions, but genuinely prepared for the worst-case scenario.

This KPI is useful because it zeroes in on how well participants apply their training in realistic scenarios. Software like quality assurance for call center helps you record specific metrics in your simulation, such as call handling times or customer satisfaction rates.

2) Crisis management response and communication metrics

Now, we move into measuring how good your organization is at responding to specific crisis events to see if your hard work in preparation and planning paid off:

Time to initial response

Think of “Time to Initial Response” as how fast you hit the ground running when a crisis strikes. It’s about measuring the minutes — or seconds — it takes for your team to respond after a crisis is identified.

You track this KPI by noting when a crisis is reported and when your response starts. It’s different from other metrics because it’s all about speed. A fast response can differentiate between a minor hiccup and a full-blown disaster. It shows you how attentive your staff are at spotting errors and applying their crisis training skills.

Stakeholder communication satisfaction

Stakeholder communication satisfaction is about how well you’re talking to your team, customers, or anyone important during a crisis. When you’re working with business partners or third-parties, crisis communication is extremely important for

You can measure this KPI through feedback forms on social media or your website, where you ask how satisfied they were with your communication. It focuses on the quality of your communication, not just the fact that you sent out a message. That’s how you build long-term positive relationships with clients and customers.

One of the most important crisis communication metrics is social data
Source: Sproutsocial

Crisis resolution time

To know how quickly your organization is at defusing a crisis, you track it by marking a crisis’s start and its end, which is pretty simple as long as you have clear conditions for crisis conclusion.

This KPI shows not just how quickly you respond, but how effectively you handle the situation to resolve it. A short crisis resolution time indicates that your team is adept at problem-solving skills and staying composed in stressful moments.

3) Post-crisis recovery and learning metrics

From an optimist’s perspective, crises are learning opportunities that can strengthen your business long-term. This section covers the best metrics you can use to learn from your mistake:

Operational recovery time

One step further than crisis resolution time is assessing how quickly your business bounces back to its standard operating rhythm after a crisis. It’s the gap between operational disruption and the return to business as usual, when your team is still chasing up loose ends.

Read Disaster Recovery Plans: What Are They and Why Do You Need One?

To measure this KPI, pinpoint when operations are hit and when they’re fully back to normal. If you bounce back quickly, your business is resilient to crisis conditions; if you’re bogged down for ages, action may be needed. As such, it’s a useful metric for understanding the crisis recovery phase and your ability to minimize long-term impact on your business processes.

Crisis communication impact on operations
Source: PWC

Stakeholder satisfaction

Stakeholder satisfaction gauges how happy your stakeholders (like customers, employees, and partners) are with how you handled the crisis. You measure it through surveys and feedback collected after the dust has settled. If your satisfaction rates are really low, you should make extra effort to rekindle relationships and show how your business will move on from the crisis.

Customer retention rate

Customer retention rate post-crisis looks at the percentage of customers who stick with you after a crisis. Since your customers are your business’s bottom-line, you want this number to be as high as possible!

Read Reputation Management: 10 Best Practices

The most effective way to rebuild bridges is to provide a personalized experience for your most valuable customers. This means assuring them that you’ve identified the cause of what went wrong, how you plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and what sweet deals you can offer to keep them on board.

As a word of advice, look for the best contact center software that can integrate with your CRM platform; that way, your agents on the ground know what makes your individual customers tick and how to best approach them in the aftermath of a crisis.

4) Future planning: integrating crisis communication metrics

Learning from your mistakes is useless if you don’t implement recommendations into your training material. This section covers two KPIs you may want to track to evaluate them:

Crisis plan update frequency rate

The Crisis plan update frequency rate measures how often you review and update your crisis management plan. It’s tracked simply by recording each time the plan is revised within a given period.

Did you have one year where the plan wasn’t updated at all? And if so, why? This is your opportunity to delve deeper into crisis response lessons and instill a more proactive culture in your business communications.

Read 10 Most Famous Examples of Damaged Corporate Reputation

Employee preparedness post-update

Employee preparedness post-update looks at how well (and quickly) your team understands the revised crisis management plans.

You measure it through training completion rates, drills, and feedback after making updates. High marks here prove that your retraining was effective and your team is equipped. Low marks suggest that your retraining was confusing and you need to touch base with your employees again.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, a crisis communication plan is essential for any business. During emergencies, your team needs a blueprint for speaking with customers, stakeholders, and management. Everyone’s roles must be clearly defined and the plans must be updated (and followed) regularly.

So, get started by tracking these KPIs, listen to the feedback, and make those necessary tweaks. Your business resilience depends on it, and so does your peace of mind.

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