Handling Missteps on the Web

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We’ve all had missteps and made mistakes, some more serious or public than others. There’s just no avoiding these glitches because in their very nature they are unplanned accidents. What we can control is the way we respond to our own slip-ups.

To borrow from pop culture, let’s take a look at popular actress Jennifer Lawrence. Her misstep at the Academy Awards on her way up the stairs to accept her Oscar for Best Actress may as well be known as the fall heard ’round the world. As mortifying as that may have been for her, Miss Lawrence picked herself up and continued on her way as if nothing happened. She then began her acceptance speech, “Thank you. You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell, and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you.”

Later in her press conference she was asked what happened to cause her to fall, and she responded, “What do you mean what happened? Look at my dress. I tried to walk up stairs in this dress, that’s what happened.” By graciously acknowledging her misstep and poking fun at herself a bit, Jennifer showed us all that it was OK to laugh and came across as that much more endearing.

Whether you’ve goofed up in an email, made a typo in a social media post, or noticed an error on your website, you can learn from Jennifer Lawrence and the way she handled her slip at the Oscars. Let’s review some ideas for handling missteps on the web.

  • Double-Check Everything

    In order to notice missteps, you have to read back through everything you’ve posted. Double-checking can save you some embarrassment, as your customers will surely notice issues if you don’t catch them first. If you schedule all of your social media posts ahead of time on a tool like HootSuite, you can catch spelling errors and incorrect links before they are ever seen by your customers.

  • Assess the Severity

    Some mistakes are bloopers and some are blunders. Before you take any further action, determine how serious the issue is. If it’s a small typo on a recent website or social media post, simply make an edit or delete the incorrect post and re-post it with your edits. If you’re going back through your social media and notice a minor error in an old post, let it go. People are more forgiving with social items since many of us tweet, Facebook and Instagram from phones where we are more likely to mistype.

  • Acknowledge the Misstep Graciously

    With more egregious errors, additional action must be taken. Rather than simply fixing your mistake, publicly acknowledge that you have made a mistake. Follow Jennifer Lawrence’s example and use humor to address the issue. Taking responsibility for your misstep and cracking a lighthearted joke allows your customers to identify with and respect you more

  • Thank Your Customers

    Should your customers notice your errors before you do, thank them for kindly pointing them out. Whether they are trying to clarify a price, a special, or an event date, without them notifying you, you may have never seen the mistake. This gives you the opportunity to build a closer relationship with your customers and prove that you are responsive to their needs and concerns.

Missteps will happen: on your website, on social media, in your emails. They are unavoidable; after all, we’re human. But rather than looking at these missteps as pitfalls, think of them as opportunities. Use them as opportunities to show that you are responsive and relatable. The real misstep occurs when you do not respond to errors or mistakes at all.

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