When Silence Is Not Golden
For a public-facing retail business, silence in a crisis can only worsen things by creating a crisis of confidence with customers, the media, public safety officials and other stakeholders. St. Louis-based regional grocery chain Schnuks is finding out the hard way.
Two weeks ago, Schnuks discovered a breach of their debit and credit card information. Beyond one generic corporate statement they have said nothing to anyone…not their concerned customers, nor the media that has reported on the problem, including that police are advising customers to only use cash at Schnuks stores.
As of this posting, still nothing on their website two weeks after knowing about the breach; the "Latest Communication" section of their webpage promotes a job fair, and a potato chip product recall.
At CommCore we advise our clients that in a crisis, especially one involving the public, external communication and transparency are of utmost importance. Even if Schnuks was the victim of a hack, they will suddenly find themselves seen as the villain instead of victim if they continue to remain silent with their clients, suppliers and other stakeholders.
As one frustrated customer posted on a State of Missouri credit card fraud Facebook page: "[F]rom a corporate standpoint, an ethical standpoint... I wish that Schnucks would have been proactive and made a STRONG statement when they became aware of this issue more than 2 weeks ago. For example: 'We have become aware of a security breach. Please continue shopping at our store, but use the ATM located near the entry to withdraw cash. Because of your inconvenience, we will offer double coupons on Tuesdays AND Thursdays'...or something like that..... I am disappointed in their non-response."
Perhaps Schnuks should bring that customer in to run their communications department.