mens white adidas trainers How to not be United
How do small businesses avoid those big company foul ups that, for example, last week had millions still watching a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight and watching a passenger holding a baby and in tears after an apparent confrontation with an American flight attendant about bringing a stroller on board?
There probably were fewer people though still enough to cause executive stomachs to churn reading Adidas’ presumably well meant but badly worded email congratulating participants for surviving the 2017 Boston Marathon. “Surviving” was the offending word: This year’s was the fourth Boston since the terrorist bombing at the 2013 race.
Nonetheless, those of us who have received the OMG we screwed up help us phone calls know that within the smaller business sphere the results of a foul up can be devastating.
So, Tom Caprel, how do we keep bad things from happening?
“It starts with culture at the top,” Caprel answers. “It’s the business’ core values, treating customers with respect and dignity. It’s an ongoing process of reinforcing who we are.”
Caprel is a veteran entrepreneur who, with wife Evie, is BreakThrough Results Inc., Wheaton. He’s right about the importance of a business’ core values and right again about the need to make those values an everyday part of the business.
“If employees are engaged, they will communicate the way we want them to,” Caprel says.
But, for the heck of it, let’s assume something negative happens. Maybe it’s a customer who’s angry,
or a competitor taking the low road. It could be your delivery truck in an accident with the worst possible results.
Maybe a trusted employee is embezzling.
“If you look at any company, any size, they practice fire drills and similar emergencies,” says Jim Mitchell, Mitchell Marketing Management, Arlington Heights. “They do role playing for new customer service reps and sales people.”
Following that logical path, smaller businesses should “practice crisis management,” Mitchell says. “Have a mock drill.
“Write materials now, then review them when the moment comes.” When that moment does come, too many business leaders “try to react too quickly,” Mitchell says. “They get frazzled, respond too fast and say the wrong thing.
“There’s no obligation to respond right now when you’re faced with an angry special interest group (or a reporter who sticks a microphone in your face). It’s OK to say, ‘We’ll respond at 4 o’clock.'”
Three companion tips from my list:
Be honest. You probably shouldn’t volunteer information, but don’t cover up. A cover up almost inevitably will be uncovered, and any credibility you have will disappear.
Practice. A Dirty 30 question and answer rehearsal can be helpful.
Assuming you know what you want to say and have rehearsed at least a little,
consider going to the media before they come to you.