Just kidding – we totally meant to send this to you. Gotcha, didn’t we? However, we’ve probably all been there: the moment of sheer panic when you realize you accidentally sent the wrong email blast, or the big proposal to a potential client that wasn’t quite finished yet. We all make mistakes and it’s usually only a matter of time before someone accidentally gets a little trigger-happy with the ‘send’ button. However, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to handle the situation (we’re lookin’ at you, United and Delta) to maintain both your brand and integrity. Although we sincerely hope you don’t have to use them, here are a few things to keep in mind when you find yourself in a tight-spot, just in case.
1. Own it
Spoiler alert: this might suck. One of our core values at Hileman Group is “Make Mom Proud,” and when it comes to saving face, her old saying goes: honesty truly is the best policy. It says a lot about a company that can stand up and say “Yea, we messed up” versus one that tries to cover it up. Depending on the size of the screw up, you might even be able to have some fun with the follow-up. In one of our favorite examples, Klipfolio, a dashboard and analytics company, sent out the wrong version of their holiday email. They sent out another email afterwards saying, “Looks like an elf might have gotten into the eggnog a bit too early, and sent our holiday email too soon.”
Maintain your brand’s voice, but take stock of the situation. Sending a cheeky response probably won’t go over well after someone gets dragged off one of your airplanes (okay, we’re done). It seems tempting to want to put the best PR spin on whatever happened, but people can usually see right through this. Apologize earnestly, and explain what happened. Yes, they might be angry, and you might even lose the client; however, chances are they will be willing to work through it. After the dust settles, they’ll probably remember and respect your authenticity and transparency more than the mistake.
2. Find a Bright Side
Did you know that both the creation of penicillin and the microwave oven were complete accidents? Just because someone messed up doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world or that you can’t get something positive out of the experience.
Look at your data and see if there are any interesting points. For example, in one ‘oops’ moment where we accidentally missed changing a subject line for a secondary email blast, we actually learned that the open rate for the secondary email was higher than the initial deployment, despite having the same subject line. This led us to further A/B testing of subject lines and determining more in-depth and valuable insight for our client.
3. Set up a Buddy System
In attempt to catch mistakes before they happen, we established the ‘buddy system.’ Before deploying client emails or other projects, we always find someone else to proof-read and go over everything with. Fresh eyes and perspective are more likely to catch anything that seems off, or at least question why things are set up a certain way. It’s an easy way to be proactive about making sure all your i’s are crossed and t’s are dotted…err, other way around. Our buddy caught that.
4. Keep a Record
Striving for a perfect record is admirable, but not realistic. Just like you analyze and keep track of other types of data, it’s important to log when these types of situations happen so you can get better.
If you’re consistent about keeping track of errors, you’re much more likely to notice when and if any trends arise, and how to fix them. At Hileman Group, we established our own Quality Log. Every week, we review any mishaps or oversights, which helps ensure we’re all being held accountable to producing the highest-quality deliverable for our clients.
“Errare humanum est.” In other words, “to err is human.” If there’s a Latin saying for it, it must be universal, right? But basically, people have been screwing up for centuries. Mistakes happen and you know what? It’s okay. We forgive you anyway. Get up, dust yourself off, get back to work, and do better the next time.