How should we deal with a public crisis?

Whatever the size of your company there will be a time when you will have to face a crisis who implies directly or indirectly your customers. An issue with one customer can quickly escalate if the customer brings it to the social media sphere. This online presence makes it easier for angry customers to vent their bitterness. It can also bring you more engaged customers thanks to online recommendations. Customers do write recommendations when they are either very satisfied or totally outraged. This online presence can be seen as a strength as long as each of the customers’ expectations are fulfilled. Customers can become angry when they realize that a product or a service does not follow the firm or the market standards. There are few reasons why customers can be unhappy:

There are in fact many more reasons for a customer to be upset about a company. It is most of the time linked to trust issues, the feeling of being unheard or dumped.

Many companies faced crises and will do. The question is: how should you respond in time of crisis? You do not need to be an international company to think about it. You should consider it even if you are an entrepreneur creating your company. As we say in France “Prudence est mère de sureté” which translate to “Caution is the mother of security”

What will you do when you make a mistake and a customer is upset about it? What will you do when a default product is brought back to you? What will you do when your worth nightmare becomes true?

There are two ways to approach a problem. They relate to two different mindsets. You can believe that your mistakes define the person or the company you are. It leads you to hide your mistakes or avoid to face them. You can also believe that mistakes can happen anywhere and that the most important is to learn from them in order to find a solution with all your intelligence and energy. I will call those mindset the Avoidance mindset and the Improvement mindset.

Those two mindsets create two very different reactions. You may not react at 100% with an Avoidance or an improvement mindset. . Moreover, most of us tend to operate with a mix of Avoidance and Improvement mindset which depends on the situation, the other person reaction, and our emotional state. Our reactions are unique and depend on our personal history. Some of us get along with stressful situation. Especially when it comes to admitting a mistake and trying to solve the issues that emerged from it. We can learn from people with an Improvement mindset by observing their actions and thinking of ways to replicate them in our life. Your behavior may also differ depending on the type of mistakes you made. Some mistakes are easier to see as things that can be improved while others may seem to be inherent to the person or company you are and then unsolvable. All that depends on your beliefs because in the end “We are what we believe”. The human race is probably the only one that sees the world through beliefs.

It is essential to have the courage and the strength to recognize the impact of our beliefs in the way we react to failures. As individual and companies we should identify the situations in which we behaved based on our Avoidance or improvement mindsets. We can then evaluate if we should to attempt to change from one mindset to the other. It is not necessary to change your mindset at all costs. Sometimes an Avoidance Mindset can help you overcome a difficult situation. We are talking here of the importance of those mindsets when we have to deal with a public. In this case, there are behavior that you would wish to practice in order to improve your relationship with your customers. If you believe that you are a very bad at dealing with complains regarding your presentation skills you will for sure end up with an avoidance mindset but let’s look at those two mindsets more closely.

Here is a comparison of the two mindsets:

 I already hear some of you saying: “what do I do when I tried everything implied by the Improvement mindset and my customer is still not satisfied?” The answer is not simple but it would look like something like that. Some people (and customers too) do not want to be offered a solution or even consideration. They just want to show you your flaws for reasons you may never understand. They use their complain as a call for attention. As a company you have to decide when to stop caring. Do you really want to lose your energy with this one client? What will you lose / win by letting him alone? Are you really willing to lose your time, energy and joie de vivre for a big check at the end of the month?

Most of the time, taking the time just to listen to the customer is enough to reduce the tension. Considering their experience as important is as vital as solving the issue. The human side of business should never be forgotten because it is the base of organizations. People working with people to satisfy a common need.

At the end of the day, you should always remember: You can learn anything, it is a question of time, devotion. The customers you face give you a great opportunity to learn and retrospectively find ways to provide a better service or product. The importance of your work will be recognize when you face a crisis with awareness of yourself and the people impacted by your behavior.

And most importantly, next time you think, I cannot do it: Ask the question: why not?

Is that true or a false belief? How can I learn from this experience? Where can I learn more ?

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