question hour

Gopika Mehra | Updated on January 16, 2018

Lessons in crisis management

Samsung seems to be in a mess with its Note 7 fiasco. How does it manage this crisis?


Gopika, at 2.5 million phones, Samsung has announced the biggest ever recall of smartphones. The financial loss seems to be pegged at $20 billion. As Samsung tries to digest this, is there a brand value loss as well? If so, what’s that?

A quick look at Samsung and its debacle with the exploding battery will help answer that. The exploding phone is nothing new. In the quest for the faster charging battery, smartphones across brands have explored the lithium ion battery that is both light and quick charging. As brands lose differentiators in their physical abilities, the battery, battery life and charging time have become parts of the communication process even. There is a smartphone that tells you that you can charge it in five minutes and speak for two hours with that charge.

The battery has, therefore, become the focus of rivalry, the point of new USP development for the smartphone. Can you then say a battery fault is not a phone fault? Not really. The phone, battery and its umbilical cord, the charger, are all part of the smartphone experience.

Literally every phone with a rechargeable battery in it has had cases of explosions. Explosions when charging, explosions when in the pocket, and worse still, while speaking. Totally inexcusable, for sure. But certainly not one that will tar the image of the brand in question today.

As Samsung scurries to manage its image, it’s time to put the issue of the fast-charging battery under the scanner.

The quick action of withdrawal, the even quicker action of communicating with clarity and integrity could earn brand Samsung valuable consumer brownie points. Samsung acted fast and furious. The brand seems to be currently on overdrive wearing transparency on its sleeve. This is a great way of handling a crisis, a crisis in the age of social and digital media. I am told its freebies are strong as well. There is just one more thing I would like this brand to do. Come out with a white paper on what went wrong. Samsung will help not only itself, but everyone out there in the quest for the quick-charge battery of the future.

Published on October 20, 2016

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