We are all human – and that means a lot of things, but mostly it means that we aren’t perfect. As an imperfect species that means that sometimes…mistakes happen. Depending on one’s disposition determines how mistakes are responded to. Some will analyze the mistake to understand why it happened, others will chalk it up to fate and still others will try to fix it or excuse it. The fact is, how one handles a mistake is frequently more important than the mistake itself.
So when mistakes happen with your email program what do you do? You may choose to respond like Adidas did recently when they realized that their subject line “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” was not appropriate and quickly followed up with a simple, but thoughtfully written apology. In some situations it may be best to do nothing at all. Here are a few tips and considerations to get out of the doghouse.
Recognize the mistake
The first step in reconciling is to know you made a mistake. It may be second nature for some to want to cover up a mistake, but it is critical that it is recognized as quickly as possible and addressed with key stakeholders internally to determine the severity of the error and the proper course of action.
Address the mistake – or don’t
Not every mistake will require an oops message – sometimes the best action is no action, other times you may want to consider suppressing a customer from upcoming messages or it may even be worth it to follow-up with an “oops” or “we’re sorry” message – depending on the severity of the mistake and the impact to the customer.
Know you aren’t the first and won’t be the last
Everyone makes mistakes, it is how we deal with the mistakes that people tend to remember. No one is perfect so don’t be too hard on yourself – but do file that moment away as a reminder of things to avoid – better yet, add it to a check list (if it makes sense).
Find some humor in the error
Don’t take yourself too seriously – you have an opportunity to turn a potentially negative situation into a moment that people will remember with a smile. Bring a human element to your response, be humble and own it.
Have a plan
Be prepared with decision criteria for appropriate-level response to mistakes – not if they happen, but when they happen. This will provide a framework for determining the best course of action and keep the situation calm.
As marketers, it’s important for us to have an action plan in place to react to our marketing mistakes in a timely manner. For more on navigating the inbox and the effectiveness of an apology email, download our infographic.