Be Transparent When There’s a Problem…

So yesterday, I wrote about how I had a really bad experience getting post-dinner pie from a local pie shop.  The employees were scurrying around and seemed totally oblivious to the fact that Lauren and I hadn’t received pie yet.  It was super frustrating.

Well, I went to the website to email the shop and let them know about my experience and that it would greatly influence our interest in coming back to the shop.

So, the manager wrote back and mentioned that we got there right amidst the shift change.  It’s a process that isn’t a smooth as it should be and is what caused the massive delay while we were waiting in line.  She  said that they even had thought about closing the shop for 30 minutes during the shift change.  Additionally, the delay in us getting our pie was from the fuse blowing because of a new machine that they had in the back.  Their staff needed to attend to the issue right away.

If the folks at the pie shop would have been like, “Hey, we’re changing shifts right now.” or “Hey, we have a problem in the back. One of our new machines just blew a fuse.” We would have totally understood.  They just needed to be transparent about what’s going on.

Problems happen.  When something goes wrong at work, we’ll throw up a blog post or a tweet so that our users know that we recognize the problem and that we’re working to resolve it.    We’re transparent about what’s going on.   We apologize for what’s happened.  We may have to hand out the proverbial slice of free pie but usually we’re able to get things back to where they were with minimal damage to the trust we have between us and our customers.

When there’s a problem (and yes, there’ll be a problem), let folks know about it.  I think the first reaction is that folks will be shocked that you’re not perfect.  I think everyone realizes that problems happen.  Customers will understand.  Just own up to the problem.  Apologize for it.  Learn from it.  Rinse and repeat.  You’ll be better off for it.

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