If you approach it correctly, you have the potential to get closer to your clients and to your market by dealing with a crisis that you could not prevent from happening. It is up to you to deal with it in a way that will turn the tables and allow you to achieve extremely positive results rather than negative ones. There are many ways in which you can make lemonade from lemons.
• Meet the crisis head on: If you ignore the crisis and assume it will disappear on its own, you are sadly mistaken. The best way to constructively deal with the crisis is to go into the situation with your eyes wide open and to methodically and sensibly dissect the crisis until it no longer poses a threat to you and your business.
• Deal with negative comments diplomatically: In all businesses, you will come across people online who will be dissatisfied with some aspect of your business (either your products and/or services, your content, etc.) and will happily share their opinion with you. The best way to deal with and diffuse the situation is to have an honest dialogue with the other person. Communicate the idea that you are happy to listen to him/her and reassure him/her you will try your best to improve upon your offerings so his/her needs are met. If the other person feels you are truly trying to accommodate him/her, you will actually have the chance to turn that person into a loyal client. However, it is important to understand that developing that relationship will take time and nurturing. It won’t happen overnight.
• It is important to post negative as well as positive feedback from your online connections: In many cases, you will learn more from negative feedback than you will from positive feedback, even though positive feedback is easier to receive (on an emotional level). Not only will it prove to be a learning experience for you but it will most likely benefit your online connections as well.
• Let your staff in: It is not a smart idea to keep your staff in the dark when dealing with a crisis for your business. If you are in it together — then you should be in it together. You need to be able to trust them and to delegate responsibilities to them so they can help you to manage the crisis in the best possible way. Not only will that approach help to manage the crisis but it will also help to build loyalty in your staff.
• Speak with people as equals: It is extremely important you give your clients (and other online connections) the respect and consideration they deserve, which means speaking to them as equals. You need to ensure your clients know you consider their opinions to be important.
• Always acknowledge other people’s comments: The worst thing you can do when someone sends you a comment online is to not acknowledge it. If a customer asks a question you can’t answer right at that moment, acknowledge that the question was asked and let the person know you will do some research and get back to him/her with an answer.
• Sincerity is always best: Always be sincere — people can tell if you are insincere, and they won’t appreciate it. Generally, people understand everyone makes mistakes and they will definitely respect you more if you apologize and move on.
• Pay close attention to what people think about your business brand and offerings: It is important to really listen to what people are saying about your business. If you keep yourself in the dark, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to improve upon what you have already established, which leaves you with no possibility of gaining more success. Success, of course, is your ultimate goal.
Although “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a cliché, there is a great deal of wisdom in the concept. If you are dealing with a crisis in your business, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept it and close up shop. You can consider it a learning experience and turn the negative into positive. Everyone has to deal with crises at some point in their careers. It isn’t a matter of the crisis existing, it is a matter of how you react when you are in the middle of it. If you deal with it constructively and gracefully, your business connections will respect you and will want to continue to be associated with you and your business. Remember to listen to what other people are saying and glean ways to improve your approach whenever possible. That is one of the important ways in which you will grow your business.
Michael Cohn is the founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has more than 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. We are pleased to provide you with the insightful comments contained herein. For a free assessment of your online presence, let’s have coffee.