Transparent Responsibility – Owning Up to Your Mistakes

Transparent RPG DiceI’m currently working on a social media / network SEO plan that will leverage all the blogs and tweets that the Quicken Loans family of companies has. It’s pretty inventive if I do say so myself. It’s a good challenge do to the diversity of the Quicken Loans’ family of companies. If you’d like to see the challenge I’m working with feel free to stop by the Quicken Loans’ family of companies page. I’m not actually writing about this plan though. I’ll brag about it later when my get enough empirical date to support my anecdotal data. I’m writing about Google Docs today.

Google Docs Broke

I started working on the above strategy doc last week when Google Docs broke. It went down for about an hour. I hopped on Google+ and +mentioned a few of the Googlers in hopes that they would grace this Googleite with an answer, and they did. In fact, they provided me with a URL to a status page. They even went on to write a responsibility [some would call it a disclosure] blog post about what happened.

Sure, they explained the tech side of stuff, how they discovered it, generalized what they did, you know – the stuff that is in normally inside of these types of blogs. The thing that impressed me the most, and is unfortunately still not that common, is that they come out and said sorry. Not sorry for what we, the Googleites, may have felt or may have thought or what have you. Nope, they apologized for, said they were sorry, for what they did. Google, and the Googlers directly, said they were sorry for the bug that they introduced into the Google Docs system.

Now that takes balls, “Oops, we messed up. We broke something. We’re sorry for breaking it.” Takes balls, strength of character, to own up to what you did. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of companies that do that yet. They should. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s good business and good marketing.

Don’t Just Be Clear Make It Clear

I paraphrase, Like it says in ReWork don’t make transparent some marketing buzz word do it. You should be clear. As a designer it is your responsibility to take every opportunity possible to make things as clear as possible. If you, or you’re team, screw something up say, “I’m sorry, I/we screwed up and this is how we fixed [are going to fix it].”

You may get some blow back form noisy clients but you’re going to get that no matter what you do. Make a product change some few don’t like and they start squeaking their wheels to get some oil. Those clients who are going to be repeated buyers, users, those that are going to keep coming back to you will value your product more because you were honest and open and you did something about it.

Don’t hide behind fancy words. Talk plain and keep it clear.

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