Last week's IT chaos has undoubtedly resulted in British Airways' (BA) reputation taking a bit of a bashing, which is a shame for a brand that is otherwise well known for its excellent service. BA now faces dealing with compensating customers, reuniting passengers with their baggage and a fall in share price for IAG, its owner. On 1 June, its board called for an independent inquiry into what had gone wrong.

In the light of this, our top tips for managing a crisis are:

  • Remember that what you do now could become the subject of litigation or could be damaging to reputation if leaked. Continue to employ best practice in all you do and think carefully about what you write in emails and what the business says on social media. If nothing else, you may find yourself answering to the Board about what has happened
  • Keep records of the events and what you have done to rectify the situation. If it turns out that a contractor or supplier is at fault, these will be useful for proving your case at court or bringing the other party to the negotiating table
  • Customers are relying on you for the best possible information, so keep them up to date. If they are having to contact you for information and updates, not only does this draw precious resources away from fixing the problem, it is more likely to lead to frustration which can escalate the issues you are left to deal with once the immediate crisis has been resolved
  • Proactively manage the media.  A swift, genuine apology from a leader can help take some of the sting away.  Be clear about how you plan to fix the immediate problem
  • Analyse the root cause of the problem. Using an independent third party can lend credibility to the investigation and help to restore confidence
  • Ask how you handled it.  Can your processes be streamlined for the future? Should you consider engaging a supplier to provide you with additional services to be used in the event of an emergency, such as IT services or office space?  Do you have the sort of culture which facilitates continuous improvement?
  • Do you have a crisis management plan in place? Ensure it is practised regularly to close any loopholes and make sure any knowledge gaps are spotted in advance and filled. Maintain a list with contact details of contractors and suppliers who may need to be drafted in at short notice to assist
  • Look into whether you have any insurance applicable to the situation. If there is any suggestion that your business was not at fault, or was let down by one of its suppliers, obtain appropriate legal advice on whether you should be considering bringing a claim, as this will give you the best starting point to discuss the issue with those responsible.