When an Agency Should Drop a Client During Crisis Management
About two and a half weeks ago, we published an article about Social Report, a community management tool that was facing a crisis when all its users’ posts were removed from Facebook. We wrote about the steps that Social Report, and similar 3rd party solution software companies facing a crisis, could take to restore trust and provide for their customers until the storm passes.
The good news is that during the last few weeks, Social Report has begun to restore functionality for its users. You’d think that this would mean that crisis is starting to blow over, right? Unfortunately, Social Report’s handling of the situation has caused even more of its customers to cancel the service, even as things are beginning to improve. So, what went wrong?
Before we dive in, here’s a rundown of the events thus far:
- On August 22, Social Report users log in to see that all Facebook posts scheduled through Social Report have disappeared.
- Throughout the next 2 days, automated posts continue to appear on Social Report’s Twitter feed, none of which address the issue.
- On August 26, we publish our article “Community Management Tool, Social Report, Shut Down by Facebook: What They Can Do to Build Back Trust,” outlining the steps the company should take to put their customers first and increase transparency.
- Later that day, the CEO of Social Report, Stephan Reardon, finally writes a letter to the Social Report community with an update on the situation, telling users that repopulating historical posts is their number one priority and that they will release information on what caused the posts to be removed as soon as it is available.
- Social Report pledges to refund users.
- On August 27, Facebook begins to restore historical posts scheduled through Social Report.
- On August 28, Reardon confirms that the issue arose from their API and that the API has since been disabled.
- As of September 5, Social Report users have yet to receive refunds, and some have even received bills for the time when the service was not operational, despite Social Report’s pledge to refund users. While Social Report claims that users should now be able to reconnect their accounts to Facebook, many users are still experiencing issues. Posts to FB Groups and Ads are still not operational.
So, here’s where we stand: While Social Report has increased its communications since we initially wrote on this subject, the reality of the situation and the updates offered by the Social Report team just aren’t lining up, and it’s clear that the company is still holding back key information from its users.
One Social Report user from the Facebook Group “Social Report Users…Unite!” (formerly “Angry Social Report Users”), wrote an open letter to the CEO of the company that outlined the numerous problems that she and others users have had with the software:
And her case isn’t an anomaly.
Others have complained about similar issues with billing and refunds, and many others are generally dissatisfied with Social Report’s stated explanation for Facebook’s removal of their posts:
Social Report has even failed to pause its advertising campaigns while their clients are still recovering from this mess:
And maybe the biggest concern still on users’ minds as they continue to wait for full functionality to be restored: “Could this happen again?” To which Social Report has yet to provide a satisfactory answer.
And what does Stephan Reardon, the CEO of Social Report do when confronted with these reasonable questions from his understandably frustrated clients?
He leaves the Facebook Group.
In our last article, we outlined the advice that we, as a crisis management team, would give to Social Report to help them through this rough patch and even increase consumer confidence in the process. But does there ever come a time when a company is beyond outside help?
Now that the dust has settled somewhat and it’s becoming even clearer that Social Report is not taking the necessary steps to put their clients first, it’s time to talk about when it’s necessary for an agency to drop a client during crisis management.
When to Drop a Crisis Management Client
While Social Report has been posting much more regularly both on Twitter and on their update page, there’s a clear discrepancy in the information that Social Report is presenting and the experiences of its customers. People are still struggling to reconnect their accounts. They’re still getting billed for a service they couldn’t use. And they’re still not getting the answers they need to be able to communicate with their own clients. Worst of all, the small updates Social Report does offer seem to be designed more to keep people hanging on than to provide accurate information on the state of the platform. Basically, it’s all smoke and mirrors.
Whenever we take on a client for crisis management, we have one key expectation from them: complete and total honesty. If they can’t give us that, we can’t provide the best solution to fix their problem. For this reason, while we’ve never worked with Social Report, I can now say that we never will.
Crisis management is all about restoring trust through complete transparency. Your customers are counting on you to give them the information they need to make the decision that’s best for them. When you withhold information to save your own skin, you’ll telling customers that you care more about your bottom line than about providing them, and their clients, with the best possible service.
With a platform like Social Report, customers are not only relying on the software for their own use, but for their clients as well. Each of the agencies that use Social Report are losing a ton of money, time, and potentially, clients as they work to come up with an interim solution. This damage control–potentially tens of thousands of dollars from lost clients–could, in turn, cost Social Report users more than the couple hundred dollars they pay each month for the service. It’s not just Social Report’s business and brand on the line.
When those customers, the ones who now have to deal with the fallout of Social Report’s mistake, find out that the company doesn’t have their best intentions at heart (and trust me, they will find out), it’s only making it more likely that they’ll jump ship.
This isn’t just about Social Report. It’s about any client that isn’t truthful or who places their ego over their obligation to their customers. If you’re ever in a situation where a client isn’t truthful with you or doesn’t listen to the advice their given, it’s time to cut ties.
The only thing that Social Report can do now is be honest with themselves, fess up to their shortcomings, and offer a remedy to all their customers who’ve had to spend their own time, money, and resources to fix the problem. This simply can’t be done until the representatives at Social Report put their egos aside and their customers first.