A corporate crisis of any kind puts a strain on customer
relationships. Customers' reactions range from providing a show of
faith for the organization to having questions that need answering
to deciding to end their relationship. Time is essential. Once a
crisis strikes, innovative approaches are required given the
increased complexity employees face along with the lack of time
available to dedicate to formal learning. When these innovative
approaches are implemented as part of a customer retention plan,
they can significantly solidify credibility and relationships.
Here's how you can help salvage customer relationships through
Reach out to customers. At Satyam, for instance, within 24 hours of
the announcement of the corporate fraud, we leveraged our web
television capability to do a broadcast exclusively for customers.
During the session, the firm's leaders were able to present and
hear from the customers. Use whatever means you have at your
disposal, from Facebook and Twitter messages to personal calls to
your best customers.
When leaders are assigned to coaches, they gain the advantage of
talking through their situations as they plan their strategy.
Short, continuously available learning programs have rapid and
maximum reach. These programs should focus on best practices for
communicating with customers as well as providing the information
that leaders need to communicate with their customers.
Using real-time learning, you can blend business consulting,
organizational development, and both formal and informal training
to get to the essence of the crisis and co-create sustainable
With the primary goal of enhancing customer relationships,
real-time learning provides a solid platform for development. It is
a leader-oriented, team-customized, consultant-driven,
diagnostic-based learning service. Essentially, real-time learning
includes a needs assessment, consulting, coaching and facilitation,
and measurement - all the pillars of excellent learning. The
process is based on action research, adult learning, performance
consulting, and executive coaching concepts. It is the fusion of
development and consulting methodologies.
Real-time learning is unique because there is no single,
predefined, frozen content downloaded to an entire group of
participants; rather, it is an organic process emerging from the
With this approach, information reviewed before engagement is
combined with observations of and feedback from all stakeholders,
including customers. Without frozen content, what drives the
program is its process and the consultants' skills in
observation, feedback, coaching, and consulting, as well as their
toolkit of ready-to-use content on a variety of topics, including
project management, communications, conflict resolution, and
relationship building. The real-time learning process involves
- Collect data.
- Ignite change onsite.
- Sustain change.
During these three stages, learning happens on the job, in real
time - through a pre-engagement analysis of information,
observation, ongoing feedback, personal development meetings,
coaching, team sessions, and extensive follow-up. This process
responds to the needs of the business in the "here and now," which
is why is it especially vital during difficult
Note: This article is excerpted from Riding the
Tiger by Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen
Together, Ed Cohen and Priscilla Nelson created an impressive
learning culture at Satyam Computer Services. Ed Cohen is a talent
executive who has conducted business in more than 40 countries with
Booz Allen Hamilton, National Australia Bank, Farmers Insurance
Group, Banco Banesto, among others. He is a featured speaker, and
the author of Leadership Without Borders.
Priscilla Nelson was global director of people leadership at Satyam
when the company fell from grace. She has 30 years of talent
management experience with Fortune 500 companies including
AT&T, Emergent,Titan Corporation, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
2011 ASTD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.