Screwups...they happen. Everyone one of us wears the L on our forehead one day or another.
So far, so boring.
The interesting part follows the screwup.That is everyone's reactions. That's when and where and how great stories are created for brands, for companies, for people, for communities.
The choice is do we use that screwup as a catalyst, a plot element, to create a story of engagement, honest and integrity? That's a story of how loyalty and relationships continue to strengthen and grow? When we make that choice, then others sing Smash Mouth's Allstar on our behalf.
So, let's build a little momentum here and talk about the easy part (Well, it could be easy...) That is the 6 things you DON'T do after a screwup.
1. Don't Make It About You
You had your chance. You blew it. You screwed up.
2. Don't Blame Others.
No one cares. Really.
You can acknowledge them briefly. BRIEFLY. But no one cares, really, why or who or how we screwed up.
They care how we plan to fix it. It is what happened in their life as a result of this screwup.
3. Don't Wait
Call now. Operators are standing by.
No. The most important person is standing by. That person is the one whose day, job, project, webinar, picnic, dinner, meeting....was screwed up. By whom? You.
They will take your calls directly. No operators, no screening, no voicemail needed. They REALLY want to hear from you.
4. Don't Ask Them For a Solution
The solution is obvious. So, fix it. Immediately.
After you have fixed the damage done, then ask What else can I do? What do I need to do to make this right?
5. Don't Drop the Curtain on Their Stage
You created their stage when you created the screwup. It's their stage now.
And whatever they want to say, whatever baggage they want to pull up their with them....you built their stage. They get their performance.
Yes. The performance does need to come to an end. We have homes and families and sleep that's needed. However, the curtain drops when they say it does.
You can help them understand the choice:
We can continue to listen or we can move towards a solution.
But that works only after you have heard the first performance.
They have earned it. You created it for them.
6. Don't Fail to Learn.
Otherwise, all this agony is in vain. And you will repeat it again and again until you learn from your screwup.
Now, those are don'ts. Don'ts are...helpful. Don'ts are a first step.Don'ts point to the doors we want to keep closed. Let's point to the doors we want to open.
Here is the list of DO's after a screwup.
1. DO Make It About Them
2. DO Describe Everyone Who Will Help.
Tell them who you will contact and what they will do to deliver a solution.
3. Do Act Immediately
Screwups happen. An immediate and accountable response shows you care, you are professional. It communicates confidence and instills patience.
4. DO Have An Immediate and Complete Solution.
That is one that solves the immediate pain created with the screwup. And it includes a solution, that shows in ways meaningful to they whose day your screwup interrupted, that you truly care about them.
5. DO Let Them Have a Curtain Call.
Ok. That might be hyperbole. But, they have earned the attention. You built the stage. Now...give them their moment...(s)
6. Do Learn From This.
What went wrong, when did it go wrong, who...was involved. That last one is not to point fingers. That last one is to learn from their experience as well. you may have the right system with the wrong people. The right people with the wrong system. Misaligned incentives....Include everyone in this conversation.
The DON'Ts...keep us from opening the wrong door.
The DO's help us open the right door.
Disclaimer: I speak directly for brevity. I have done all the don'ts. I was especially proficient at the last one. Repeatedly.
Over time...and with a desire to repair the brick wall where I'd bashed my head...over and over, I began to do the DO's. And it's helped the wall, me, and those around me...be happier. They thanked me.
Try it. Try them. Let me know.
* istockphoto from ideabug