Whilst it’s more common to see large businesses suffering from the backlash of a big mistake than it is smaller businesses, it’s not unheard of. Smaller brands, especially those who are still in the early days of their business, can be at risk of making critical errors that could damage their reputation and image beyond repair.
Misjudgements and slip-ups can happen on occasion in small businesses, but that doesn’t mean owners will be unable to rebuild and repair their image and reputation. Come on now, which brand can truthfully say they’ve never made a mistake?!
An innocent mistake can sometimes, in the worst very case scenarios, lead to the breakdown of a small business but if dealt with correctly it is possible to come back bigger and better than ever.
Step 1: Craft the perfect apology
Once it’s become clear that you and your small business have made a mistake - whether it’s a colossal one or more on the minor side - your first port of call should be to apologise.
Customer retention is critical for continued success in businesses of all sizes but, for small businesses in particular, customer loyalty is vital - especially in the early stages of a start-up. The aim of an apology statement, press release or letter is to retain customers and build customer loyalty back up and so there are a number of elements of an apology that you should remember; the reasons for the apology, who you’re apologising for, the method of apology and your timing. By getting the apology wrong, you’re only kicking yourself whilst you’re down!
According to Perfectapology.com, there is a certain structure of an apology that businesses should follow; acknowledge the damage caused, recognise your involvement, issue a statement of regret, ask for forgiveness and make a promise (and mean it!) that this won’t happen again. By admitting fault, it’s clear to your audience and customers - and the Twitter-verse who excel in voicing their complaints - that you aren’t trying to place blame on anyone else or make excuses.
Regardless of the format of your apology, whether it’s issued through a press release, a personal letter or on social media, these principles remain the same. Small businesses are reliant on customers and loyalty in order to build their business; by being transparent and quick to admit fault for a mistake, you’ll be rebuilding trust within your customers.
Step 2: Make a comeback with content
After you’ve done your grovelling in a sincere and sufficient manner, it’s time to start rebuilding your brand’s image and reputation with the power of content planning.
To make a profound and successful comeback from a serious mistake that has led to upset and disappointed customers, you must find ways to not only rebuild trust with your customers but also the wider general public - including the aforementioned Twitter users who aren’t quick to let epic brand fails go! One way to make this comeback is through creating and implementing a thorough and solid content marketing strategy; by creating engaging and informative content that illustrates your brand’s authenticity and transparency you’ll help re-position your brand as one recognised with loyalty and trust.
Once your small business has rebuilt trust amongst customers and consumers, you can start to invite online reviews and customer testimonials on your website or promotional materials. This will not only ensure that you’re being accountable and taking feedback on board, but also that you’re committed to improving your business. Alongside this, you could consider creating and sharing regular blog posts about recent successful projects or events as well as interacting with customers and consumers on social media.
Through making a sincere and transparent apology followed by creating meaningful content, you’ll be making it clear to your customers and the wider community that you’re not willing to hide away from the backlash of your mistakes; as a small business, you’ll be respected if you acknowledge where you’ve gone wrong and actively work to fix it. Persevere, be positive in your online presence and put in the effort, and you’ll be on the road to repairing and rebuilding your small business’ reputation in no time.