You never set out to intentionally offend or irritate someone. Well, that’s assuming a lot, but I’m going to pretend you’re not out to actively derail your own business. Anyway, it’s typically a surprise when something you thought was totally innocuous turns out to be a newsworthy chance for you to rethink your entire life up to that point.
What’s worse than making a “mistake” online is that up until the big backlash happened you thought you were doing the right thing. What’s important now, though, is to react in an appropriate manner. It could make the difference between failing miserably and recovering in a timely fashion.
Assess the Situation
One of the most important things you can do at this moment is to figure out exactly what happened. The web is filled with stories of businesses that suffered some sort of public outcry and then made matters worse by handling it in the worst possible way. This often entails assuming the worst and lashing back at the people who just want an explanation for their actions.
So it’s vital to figure out what went wrong. It sounds simple now, but during a crisis your instincts are to do whatever it takes to right the ship. Try to take a second and assess the situation so you’re not simply misunderstanding what’s going on.
For example, you may have thought your last Facebook link was fine. However, you suddenly get a lot of angry messages saying they can’t believe you posted that. It was just a harmless post about something in your industry! What’s the big deal?
Instead of lashing out, though, take a second to figure out the problem. It turns out the link had some inappropriate ads you didn’t see because you have an ad blocker activated. You had no idea, but now you know and can react accordingly. If you had reacted without assessing the situation, you could’ve said something that would have exacerbated the situation.
I don’t care who was in the wrong or right, or if you think saying sorry admits guilt for something you didn’t do, or whatever your excuse is. If your company is in the center of controversy, it’s time to apologize, and quickly.
It’s not about accepting guilt, although some customers want you to do that to help them move on. What’s important is the acknowledgement that something is going on and you’re working to correct it.
That’s what most of your outraged customers are looking for. They’re angry and want you to know – and they want to hear straight from you that you’re going to handle it. This simple acknowledgement can go a long way in defusing many situations. If you try to just power through the situation without taking a minute to say “we’re really sorry and working to resolve it,” you could just make things worse. And worse.
Now you can get to actually fixing the problem – like deleting that link and making sure you look at websites “raw” in the future so you don’t make the mistake again!
What seemingly innocuous action got you into hot water with your customers?