Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, September 9, 2017
You would really think that by now companies in crisis could get it right the first time.
But no, as Equifax announced its epic Category 5 Crisis — the cyberhack of 143 million consumers’ social security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, birthdates, addresses and credit card numbers affecting at least 44% of the American population — after stalling over a month to stop the hack and prepare for the onslaught of a public announcement, clearly got the apology algorithm all wrong anyway. Did they think no one would notice?
From a tepid apology from CEO Richard Smith — totally incommensurate with the size of the crisis — to a completely botched announcement of remediation, tying use of their free credit monitoring to forfeiting the right of a trial and mandating arbitration, they just got everything wrong.
Whenever you come out of the gate wrong in a crisis — either minimizing the problem, putting forth a totally tone-deaf message, trying to pull a fast one on your consumers by limiting your liability, or retaining some of your breezy marketing messages in the face of category 5 devastation — you court the fury of your customers, the public, regulators and investors.
Here’s what Equifax has done wrong — so far. […read more]