Even when they lose, they win. Recently, Google released the details of a rather embarrassing mistake the company made back in October. Somehow, their google.com domain became available for purchase through their Google Domains site. When former Google employee, Sanmay Ved, saw the iconic domain was available, he purchased it for the minimum $12. The error messages he expected to receive never came, and the transaction went through. You can find Ved’s recording of the experience here.
Google realized the error only a minute later and was able to reverse the purchase. In exchange, they offered to pay Ved the numerical spelling of Google, or $6,006.13, for the domain. When Google learned that Ved had planned to donate the funds to charity, they doubled the amount. What started out as an embarrassment for Google, quickly turned into positive public relations.
While your business may not be able to donate thousands of dollars to win every public relations battle, there are some lessons to take away from Google’s handling of the situation.
1. Be Prepared
Obviously, this was not a situation Google had foreseen, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t prepared to react positively. For you, it may not be donating thousands to a charity, but rather a few free add-ons for a sale that took longer that normal to process. While this situation happened organically, have some sort of response plan for any issues you can possibly foresee.
2. Own the Story
Imagine if Google had tried to dismiss the situation and bury the story by blaming it on a software glitch and just reversing the transaction without buying it back? When the story eventually came out, it would not have reflected nearly as well on Google as it does now by them addressing the issue.
3. Be a Human
Google’s handling of the situation lightened the mood of an awkward circumstance, and also gave their mega company a more personal feel. Not that they needed any help in this department, but both of these things scored their brand some major points. In the face of potential conflict, avoid seeming too corporate, and add a human touch whenever possible. A customer is more likely to respond positively to a human interaction during conflict, as opposed to an official statement of apology on company letterhead or email.
4. Renew Your Domain!
This error was committed by one of the biggest companies in the world, who also happens to be pretty good at this whole internet thing. If it happened to Google, it certainly could happen to you. Enter your domain here now to see when it expires, then set a few reminders closer to that date.
Regardless of the size of your company, the lessons learned from Google can still be applied.
Have you ever turned a difficult customer experience into a positive one? Share your story in the comment section below!