We all make mistakes sometime. As individual we are taught to apologize and hopefully the transgression will be forgiven. However research shows us that the a mistake can impact trust and my friend Ed Trolley used to say that with trust, “you take the elevator down but have to take the stairs back up.” Some research shows negative stories are more than 4x more viral than positive ones and that it can take 10+ positives to overcome a negative. Perhaps this is why roses come by the dozen.
This is not to say that the effort required to recover is not worth it. Especially as a startup. Loyalty to a brand has been shown to INCREASE after a mistake is recovered from. This is especially true when the recovery exceeds the expectation of the impacted. Think Zappos, Nordstrom and others that are storied as “over-recovery” companies.
You start by admitting it. Tell your users, clients and team that something went wrong. Don’t ever try to ignore it. This is the time to channel your inner Stoic warrior. Focus on what is not what you wish it was.
Missteps often have a strange gravity on us, turning our focus to the past rather than the future. Acceptance does not mean internalizing it. You and your team are not the mistake. You remain a smart, focused, execution machine. You just had a bad day. The key is to not let that day become a week.
Now it is time to get to the fixing. There are plenty of resources, such as root cause analysis, to help you here. My contribution to this is simply to go back to where your startup began…focused on the problem to be solved and user to be delighted.
We all try not to make mistakes. But in a world where we are also required to constantly be trying new things, it is inevitable. The key is to focus on the recovery and the learnings that come from the process. In doing so, you may be creating even more loyal customers. And that is no mistake.