This assignment couldn’t have come more at a perfect time! I work in IT and at our Town Hall on Monday our CTO was talking about how we all have to be more digital and more into social media. He was also talking about some crises’s that has happened with some companies, one of which was Target. Security is something that my company takes very seriously. With what happened with Target could have happened at any retailer, it’s eye opening and something that we all can learn from!
This weeks assignment was to pick a crises that happened in mainstream media within the last 6 months. I decided to use Target as my subject, as they just had a huge security breach that fell in between November 27 to December 15th which hit the Target stores in the U.S, where as many as 40 million debit and credit cards were affected. The hackers tried to get the customers personal information, SIN numbers, PIN numbers etc. This hack was supposedly one of the worst in U.S retailer history! How did this happen you might ask? Well, In the days leading up to the U.S Thanksgiving, someone installed Malware in Targets security and payment system which was designed to steal every credit card used at the company’s 1,797 U.S. stores. At the critical moment—when the Christmas gifts had been scanned and bagged and the cashier asked for a swipe—the malware would step in, capture the shopper’s credit card number, and store it on a Target server commandeered by the hackers.
Something like that can tarnish the companies reputation and will make the customers quickly lose their confidence and trust, especially since is the second time this has happened! Target has also been hacked back in 2005 along with two other companies! How does a company regain confidence in their customers?
There would be three ways where I convince the companies customers, constituents or clients that the store took their concerns seriously and would act to resolve the issue.
The first thing I would do is take to twitter. As already stated in previous blog posts, Twitter is the quickest way to get your messaging out to your clients, customer and constituents. Looking at Targets Twitter handle, they have 1.11M followers! That is a lot of reach! I would address the issue promptly. As you only have 140 characters per post, I would try to make my messaging clear and straight to the point. I will direct them to a FAQ site which would have quickly been created on the Target website that would address any questions or concerns that they may have. I will also have paid promotion tweet that will list the FAQ Website and the Youtube video. A closer look at Targets website showed that they actually did have an FAQ section strictly for the data breach. As their twitter were busy firing off tweets to all of their customers, the post to the URL must have been lost in the shuffle as I couldn’t find it. This URL should have been either posted at the top of their Twitter page and splashed over their Facebook page.
As stated by Christian Faller, what a company can also do is to “use #hashtags related to the incident so your information is presented in the same frame used by others online to share news (Twitter/Facebook).” An example of a hashtag that could be used that is clear is #Targetbreach. When I was browsing Targets Twitter as they were responding to customer’s tweets, I noticed that not one tweet had a hashtag. Customers could do a search for #targetbreach and a lot of their questions would have been answered. I’m sure the person who handles Targets Social Media probably kept answering the same 10 questions from their customers over and over! They also could have put it in the info that is displayed at the top of their twitter page as to their FAQs, Youtube Video and Customer Service Hotline which would help answer the questions that the customers had.
Another idea is to have the CEO, Gregg W. Steinhafelo do a live Q & A session on twitter for an hour. This will be the time where he can be in front of his customers, on the front line and can read their opinions and questions and will be able to provide answers immediately, while the wound is still fresh. The media relations team will have to brief Gregg beforehand, but I think he should make resolving this crises a priority.
As this was the largest breach in U.S Retail History, I ended up finding a Youtube video from Gregg W. Stienhafelo where he was thanking the customers and apologizing to Targets customers as to what happened and will provide the next steps on what they are going to do to resolve this issue. This video definitely needed to be longer and should have addressed the issues!
Once the Youtube video is posted, I will then use Facebook and Twitter to roll it out to my followers. I think having a Youtube video and seeing the emotional, sympathetic face of Gregg W. Steinhafel, may dilute the customers frustration at the company. Having posts or tweets are fine but sometimes to hear a voice express their apology and to say that they are doing everything in their power to resolve this issue means a lot to customers.. They want to know that the company doesn’t just think of them as dollar signs or sale figures, that they are people and their needs are fully met. Hearing a voice makes it more personable.
For a large company, they should have a crises procedure in place, a step by step guideline on how to proceed and react to the customers outburst. With more and more companies embracing the digital age, I think there will be more accounts being hacked in the future. Hopefully this hack is something that the company and other companies have learned from.
Also as a side note, I listened to a presentation last night about security breaches and the presenter was saying how we should be very careful now with QR codes, how mobile hacks are now on the rise! Something to keep in mind if we decide to use QR codes for any of our promotions/messaging in the future. The public may think it is too risk to use it – another reason why QR codes, I think, are on the decline!
Faller, Christian, “Twelve Principals to Managing Crises Management on the Web”, Module 10.
Riley, Michael. Elgin, Ben. Lawrence, Dune and Matlack, Carol. Target Missed Alarms in epic Hack of Credit Card Data. Business Week. 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 2 Apr. 2014