I arrived in Washington DC for day 1 of the CBI Product Recalls Summit and heard a lot of great information regarding the internal preparation for recalls. I even participated in a mock recall exercise, which was very enlightening.
My presentation, in collaboration with Richard Petruschke of Novartis Consumer Health was on day 2. I would like to share with you the key highlights of our presentation…
The focus of the discussion was the impact pharma recalls have on patients and consumers, and the impact that patients and consumers have on their organization. Those who work in and around contact centers — whether internal or outsourced — know that precious time is spent forecasting call volumes, call arrivals, service levels, utilization and staffing levels to ensure that you are there when your consumers/patients need you.
Then out of nowhere, a recall is announced! What do you do? You can react, try to keep up, manage the best you can, OR you can be in a state of readiness.
The fact that your consumers call for more information when a recall occurs is a blessing. They could choose to bash your organization or abandon your brand altogether, but they call because they need information that is important to their health and safety. It is critical that your contact center is prepared to provide timely, accurate and consistent information in response to consumers’ questions. Their health and safety is of the upmost importance.
In order to be in a state of readiness, it is important to understand the different classes of recalls:
- Class 1: Reasonable probability that use or exposure will cause serious adverse health consequences or death
- Class 2: Use or exposure may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences but serious health consequences are rare
- Class 3: Use or exposure is not likely to cause adverse health consequences
Class generally determines the reach of the recall, whether consumer, retailer, or wholesaler.
Statistics show that recalls are on the rise and pose dangers if not handled appropriately. These dangers include risks to health and safety of consumers, FDA fines and warnings, Impact to company/product image, lack of consumer trust, costly remediation, and viral exposure.
Keys to successfully managing a recall include planning, negotiating, communicating, etc… Some strategies for mitigating risks involve creating a crisis plan that includes pre-determined steps that your team is prepared to launch when a recall is declared. It is important to test your plan yearly and measure the results. Some considerations include:
- Determine the impact
- Engage communication contact center
- Activate separate toll free numbers
- Ensure IVR has capacity and is available 24/7
- Obtain approved scripting
- Mobilize live agent resources
- Ensure effective communications and consistent messaging across channels
- Protect company and brand image
Finally, once you have executed on your recall and the volume returns to normal, we recommend doing a post-recall evaluation to gather key lessons learned for future crisis situations. Assess what worked well and what needs attention or improvement.
We at Telerx are happy to discuss our lessons learned and help you to set up a successful readiness plan for your business. To check out our full presentation, please click here.