That’s all it takes to ruin a reputation.
This holds true, even if that moment is preceded by 10 years of good service to the local community.
I was thinking earlier about a struggling store owner, who was having a bad day, at the end of an equally bad year. Before he finished a 13-hour shift, he checked his company’s Facebook Page. He noticed a complaint from an angry customer.
That complaint was the final straw.
The store owner responded with an unprofessional mix of sarcasm and anger toward the customer. By the time the store owner arrived home, he’d decided to delete his outburst. It was too late. His comment had already been widely shared.
He offered a full apology, and explained that he’d cut his workforce by 40% after almost going bankrupt during the pandemic, and that he was stressed out and angry after working crazy hours.
Even so, he lost a number of regular customers at a time where he desperately needed them.
Anger and the cold light of day
In the cold light of day, it’s easy to say that we would never be that stupid. That we would be more measured in how we handled things.
But these situations don’t happen in the cold light of day! They happen when we’re stressed, worried or fearful. And sadly, that’s the lived experience of more business owners today, than at any time in recent history.
In business, it’s really important to press pause and think before responding. Go for a walk. Get up and do some stretches. Focus on your breathing for a while. Whatever. This can put just enough space between you and the rawness of the situation, for you to offer a more considered response.
In that above example, the store owner chose to respond in the moment, just as he was leaving for home and full of anger. If he’d waited until he arrived at home to respond, this would never have happened, or it would have had a more agreeable conclusion.
The challenge here is educating ourselves to do the sensible thing when emotions are high. But it’s worth the effort. Because it improves literally all of our relationships. Not just the commercial ones.