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This is How You Handle Failure

This is how you handle failure.

The takeaways…

It’s Not About You – It’s About the Customer You Are Serving
This young man appears to be in Middle School / Junior High. He could have been thinking what you would expect – “It’s all about me.” No one would have faulted him for walking away, sitting down with his head in his hands, or standing there and crying from embarrassment.

But he did none of those things that would have called attention to himself. Instead, he rediscovered his original purpose when his cymbals were working properly…

 I am here to honor my country and to inspire my viewers to do the same

If you cannot accomplish your purpose in the manner in which you intended, what do you do? You reinvent yourself. You turn and salute the flag. You call attention to it, not you. And in so doing, your core purpose is still fulfilled and your customer is still served.

Businesses who respond to crises the way that this young man responded to his will always be successful in the truest meaning of the word. However, remember, to respond this way you have to be this way. A crisis reveals who you are.

A Crisis Reveals Who You Are
We humans are prone to conceal the real us – especially when we know that our goals and purposes are less than admirable. Put a group of humans together in a business working together to accomplish a less than admirable purpose and what do you get? You get to watch transparency and honesty be replaced by marketing gimmicks and lies. You get to watch a blooming flower die before its time because it never took root in the earth.

There is only one admirable purpose for a business to adapt…

I am here to honor my customer and to inspire my coworkers to do the same

If that is your purpose, then when crisis strikes, you will still succeed. When all eyes are watching to see what you will do – when your customers are aghast at the crisis you face wondering how you will respond – you will still succeed because you will find another way. Your core purpose will survive. And your customers will love you all the more for it.

A vendor that provides my company with an important service went down for about a half hour. It was a critical outage, so I reached out quickly – by email to customer support and through social media on Twitter. I got an email from third-tier technical support admitting to the error and saying it would be resolved shortly. It was, but after the crisis was over, customer service responded via Twitter denying that there ever was an outage at all. This is a poor customer experience. Either I was lied to in order to save a public admission of knowledge or the outage (which would have affected hundreds of other companies) was not communicated to customer support. Both acts are equally poor because the demonstrate that the core purpose of the company is something other than to honor the customer and inspire others (like customer support) to to the same.

Contrast this with a recent experience with Sanebox. Sanebox lets you quickly set up your email inbox to stay clean from bulk email and email you want to read, but later so that your workflow is not interrupted. Once you get Sanebox running, you will know immediately if they have an outage because your normally peaceful inbox will flood with unwanted emails. They have only gone down once in my months of usage with them, but when they did it was paralyzing. I reached out again via email and Twitter. In both cases I received a very quick admission of the outage and a promise to get me back on my feet soon. They kept their promise. I had a consistent customer experience from all touchpoints that stayed true to the core values of “the customer comes first.”

What about your company? The crisis is coming, so be your best you now.

The Crisis is Coming, So Be Your Best You Now
You can’t fake who you are all the time. You can hide behind the gimmicks and the lies for only so long before a crisis comes along to rip away the veil and reveal just who you really are. It will happen to you as an individual, and it will happen to you as a company.

Andrew Pawelczyk, I salute you. You revealed your character to us when crisis struck and your cymbals failed you. Your love for your country and the symbol that represents it were so strong that you demonstrated that love in an even greater manner than you and your bandmates already were.

Choose today to refocus, or, of necessary, reset your goals and your company goals on what matters most: the customer and her experience. Honor her. Inspire your coworkers to do the same. Be your best you now.

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