When things go tits up

Posted on: 2012-10-08 in How To   |   Tagged: making mistakes at work mistake at work pr account management pr account manager


This post is an excerpt from the PR Account Manager's Handbook. Click here to download the entire series as an ebook.  By @TopLineFounder.

One of my proudest moments in the history of TopLine was a few months ago when an employee screwed up. In terms of account management mistakes, this was up there with some of the worst of them. I won’t go into too much detail, except to say that as a result of this major cock-up on our part, a client was inconvenienced on a massive scale.

So why was this obvious failure on our part such a proud moment for me? The answer is that the only time you can truly test the quality of your team, the value of your service and the true strength of your company, is when things go wrong. TopLine’s had its fair share of adversity as a business (from ash clouds spreading the team across the world, to an office burglary that deprived the company of everything with an ‘on’ button, to BT deciding our lost internet connection was a low priority hassle for four days), and our approach has always been that when things go wrong, true colours shine through (something we preach to our clients about crisis management).

While the natural reaction to a problem is to panic, or to use it as an excuse to let things slow down, our philosophy is that when something goes wrong, it’s all hands on deck to make sure that, from a client’s perspective, it’s business as usual. So that means no, ‘sorry I didn’t get that media release out yesterday because our internet was down.’ Instead, try "I’m working from a coffee shop because our internet is down. I’ll get that release out this morning, but if you need me, best to call me on my mobile".

Back to the team cock-up of earlier in 2012. Why was I so proud? Here’s why:

  1. The client team handled the issue on its own, with very little input from me. I was informed of what had happened (important to keep directors informed so they can step in if things escalate), and was told what they were going to do (great problem-solving). But no one came to me and said ‘what should we do now?’
  2. The AD kept me in the loop, but never once told me who was responsible for the problem. The team had failed momentarily and the team was dealing with the problem as a team (great people-management and good human being behaviour). I can only assume that this is because the person who was responsible behaved sufficiently apologetically and professionally, so there was no need for ‘discipline’. I still don’t know who was at fault.
  3. The decision on how to deal with the issue was to call the client, face up to him, admit an error on our part and apologise. No scapegoats, no excuses, just a sincere apology.
  4. Perhaps what made me most proud was the client’s response. Amazingly, after a very frustrating day at the hands of TopLine, he came back with ‘One cock-up in over two years – I can’t really hold it against you.’

Now that’s a case study of excellent problem solving, teamwork and disaster recovery!

Hungry for more? Download the Account Manager's Handbook in its entirety by clicking here.


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About this blog

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The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder of TopLine Comms, and inbound marketingB2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say.  Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].

 

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