I Blew It – How Do I Respond?

I’ve been reading some great posts like this one from Anil Dash about responding to mistakes. Sometimes you just blow it. It’s not intentional. You didn’t want to screw things up, but you did and now you’ve got people ticked off.

Here’s my personal mantra for responding to blunders, whether it’s personal or business:

  1. Own up immediately.
  2. Apologize.
  3. Make it right.

Case in point:

When I began blogging I was told to use Flickr to find photos for my blog because you could use the photos as long as you gave attribution to the photographer in the post. I loved it because I found great photos by wonderful photographers that add, what I think, are a creative visuals to my posts. What I wasn’t told was that some of the photos on Flickr require permission and that it’s an important courtesy to link to the photographer’s page. Nevertheless, ignorance is no excuse. It was my completely my bad for plowing ahead like a bull in a china shop, not taking the time to fully understand the process.

In the last week I’ve had two photographers rightfully call me on the carpet. One called me to account for using a photo without permission and the other because I didn’t link to his Flickr album. In each case I immediately e-mailed my apology after pulling the former picture off the post and properly linking to the latter.

I’m taking a remedial course in Flickr to make sure I don’t make future mistakes. In short order, I’m going back through my posts and adding the proper links. My apologies to all the wonderful photographers who have loaned their creative work to this and other blogs and to the folks at Flickr.

It’s certainly not the first blunder I’ve made – nor will it be the last. [sigh] Sometimes it sucks being human.

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  5 comments for “I Blew It – How Do I Respond?

  1. June 16, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Following your lead, Tom.
    Allow me to apologize to you for not offering complete instruction. The end result is a great example of how to respond in such a case.

  2. June 17, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Apology heartily accepted!. Consider the matter thrown into the “sea of forgetfulness”!

  3. June 17, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    My hat’s off to your integrity and willingness to keep things in the right perspective. In a business context this is a huge issue and more often than not lacking in both large and small businesses in today’s markets.
    In a customer service perspective this is also a good example of how taking care of customer issues should also be addressed. Most customers just want strait answers and reasonable solutions. In fact studies have shown that customer retention increases along with loyalty when problem solving is addressed in this manner, good job.

  4. June 18, 2006 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Tim. You make a great point. To recover well can strengthen customer loyalty. It’s too bad people feel the need to hide, cover-up and make excuses for honest mistakes.

  5. August 26, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Tom,
    Thanks for the great post. I agree. And having just made a couple of blunders today (yes,sometimes it stinks being human), I’m using your 3 step process now.
    Love your blog!
    Warmly,
    Donna Cutting
    aka Gal Morale

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