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Learning from a Reputational Crisis

Learning from a Reputational Crisis

Travis Schreiber is an Online Reputation expert and Director of Operations for Erase Technologies, LLC and Guaranteed Removals.

Starting your own business is like jumping on a rollercoaster. It's thrilling, a little scary, and full of ups and downs. But what happens when you hit a big bump, like when people start thinking badly about your business? That's called a reputational crisis, and it's like a rumor spreading that you have to deal with before it gets out of hand. It can start from a small mistake or a misunderstanding, but if it's not handled right, it can grow and hurt your business.

Early on in the pandemic as our team was adjusting to working from home, we ran into a big challenge. We launched a new product with a fancy dashboard to streamline some processes for both our team and our clients. We thought it would be a game-changer and were pumped, thinking we'd hit a home run. But things didn't go as planned. Our new product looked cool, but it didn't really match what our brand and we didn't do enough to support it's launch and enable our clients to engage with it successfully. Our clients, who were used to something different from us, got pretty confused. They liked the old stuff and didn't know what to make of the new and we receive a flood of negative feedback and even some negative reviews.

This was a tough pill to swallow. We had to admit that even though we loved our new creation, it wasn't what our clients were looking for. So, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We talked to our clients to really understand where we missed the mark, and we started looking for new folks who might like what we'd made. We also put together a bunch of resources and info to help everyone understand what this new product was all about and how it could still be a good fit for them. This experience taught us a big lesson right from the get-go: being a business owner means listening, adapting, and sometimes, changing course when you need to.

This hiccup in our journey, with the launch not going as expected, was a real test in crisis management. It was a clear signal that we needed to get back to the basics of handling business challenges, starting with the most critical steps. So, here's how we tackled the situation, learning valuable lessons along the way that might just help you too when you find yourself in a tight spot.

1. Facing the Music

When trouble hits and your business's good name is on the line, the first thing to do is face it head-on. Imagine you accidentally spilled your drink on someone. You wouldn't just walk away; you'd own up to it, right? It's the same with your business. Acknowledge the problem and let everyone know you're on it. Don't hide or pretend it's not happening. People respect honesty and taking responsibility, and it's the first step to fixing the problem.

2. Staying Cool

Keeping your cool is super important. When everyone around you is freaking out, being the calm one can make a huge difference. It's like being the captain of a ship in a storm. If you're calm, your crew (or in this case, your team) will be too, and you'll all be able to think clearly and fix the problem together. Panic only leads to more mistakes. Remember, it's not just about staying calm yourself, but also helping others stay calm too.

3. Talking it Out

When there's a rumor or a misunderstanding, not talking about it can make things way worse. It's important to talk to everyone involved, like your customers, your team, and even the people who aren't happy with you. Tell them what's going on, what you're doing to fix it, and be honest. It's like when a friend is mad at you; talking it out is the best way to clear the air. And remember, it's not just about talking, but also about listening. Sometimes, you'll learn important things from what others have to say.

4. Be Ready to Change

Sometimes, a crisis shows us that we need to change something. Maybe the way we're doing things isn't working, or people don't like something about our product. Being ready to change and adapt is a big deal. It's like learning from a mistake on a test and studying differently next time. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback and really hear what people are saying. Sometimes the best ideas for moving forward come from the most unexpected places.

5. Bring Everyone Together

When things get tough, it's important to remind your team that you're all in this together. It's like being on a sports team that's losing a game. You wouldn't give up; you'd huddle up, pep talk, and get everyone fired up to turn things around. It's a chance to build team spirit and show that you can overcome challenges together. Celebrate small victories along the way to keep morale high and show progress.

6. Learn and Grow

Every time something goes wrong, there's a chance to learn. What made people upset? How can we avoid it in the future? What can we do better? It's like getting feedback on a project in class. It might not be fun to hear what went wrong, but it's super helpful for doing better next time. Make a plan for how you'll use what you've learned to improve, and share it with your team. This way, everyone knows the direction you're heading and can help get there.

Wrapping Up

Dealing with a reputational crisis isn't easy, but it's a chance to show what you're made of. It's about facing the problem, staying calm, talking things out, being ready to change, bringing your team together, and learning from the experience. Just like in school, every challenge is a chance to learn and grow. And remember, the way you handle a crisis can actually make your business stronger and more respected in the long run.

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