Managing risk

Missteps and what they can do to your business

Accidental missteps can happen to any business owner at any point in time. However, in today’s digital age, even the smallest of slip-ups can quickly snowball into an avalanche.

From mishandling a complaint to publishing an inappropriate tweet, you might be surprised just how much damage a simple mistake can do.

Ignoring complaints

Not effectively dealing with customer complaints can take its toll. To many people, social media has become a popular venting tool if they’re displeased with a brand’s customer service efforts. The result? The online defamation of your brand, bad reviews and lost customers – something companies like NBN and Telstra know only too well.

So, what is the best way to deal with a complaint? For one, don’t ignore it. Taking immediate action is critical. This is true for both employee and customer complaints. Now, this doesn’t mean immediately resolving to disciplinary action but rather following procedures and getting to the bottom of the matter.

The gravity of the complaint should guide the action you do take. It could be a formal investigation or a detailed explanation followed by a sincere apology. Whatever you do, it’s important to demonstrate empathy for your customer’s problem.

When it comes to serious workplace complaints, it’s also wise to put procedures in place to prevent repeat offences. For example, implementing a policy that enforces zero tolerance for bullying. Actions like this can help restore confidence in your brand, as it demonstrates your business is committed to resolving the issue permanently.

Online slip-ups

From inappropriate personal tweets that accidentally made it onto your company Twitter account to spelling errors on your business’s Facebook page, these types of faux pas happen. However, you can rely on the internet to call you out on it – and fast. 

While some slip-ups are quickly laughed off and diffused, others can escalate into a PR crisis that might seriously hurt your brand’s credibility. 

Other online missteps you shouldn’t underestimate include infringement of copyright (e.g. unlicensed videos or images) misleading claims about your products or services, and defamation, such as talking negatively about a competitor. To minimise the risk of mishaps like these, it’s a good idea to implement clear social media policies and content approval processes.

Marketing missteps

Of course, the point of marketing is to promote and grow your business. However, if you fail to think a product or campaign through, it could achieve quite the opposite.

Swedish fast-fashion brand H&M found itself under public scrutiny. The campaign featured an African American child wearing a hoodie with the slogan ‘Coolest monkey in the jungle’.

While no racist undertones were intended, the ad sparked outrage on social media around the world. Although H&M was quick to apologise and pull the product, it had to deal with trashed stores, continued media coverage and slashed sales for an extended period of time.

In today’s digital world, it doesn’t take much for a business to get thrown into the fire. However, putting clear processes in place and taking appropriate action can help navigate your business out of the danger zone. It may even turn into an opportunity to strengthen your brand image in the public eye.

Turning a blind eye to workplace complaints

Complaints never sit comfortably, especially when they come from your own team. However, if you don’t deal with them correctly, the gripe only grows –especially when social media gets involved. 

The public’s sensitivity regarding workplace-related incidents has significantly increased. Whether it’s sexual harassment, bullying or safety, not dealing with allegations effectively when a person speaks up can be a costly move.

Do you need the latest policies and resources at your fingertips? My Business Workplace has over 200 documents ready to download. 

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