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4 Tips for Associations on Owning a Mistake

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks April 22, 2019
Table of Contents
3 min read

Mistakes: We all make them. Maybe you got the date wrong in one of your emails. Or you sent an email to the wrong list. Or your website went down for a couple of minutes, cutting off access to members-only content.

They’re those moments that make you think (and possibly even say), shoot! But whether those mistakes were something you had a hand in or not, they all warrant an outreach to your members. Owning a mistake can be hard but it’s better than trying to ignore it.

Not sure what to say or how to even approach that type of outreach?

Here are 4 few tips on how to explain a “whoops!” to your members.

1. Act Quickly

We’ll talk about how to reach out to your members in just a second, but regardless of what you say or how minor the “whoops” was, a best practice is to reach out ASAP. Email is typically the best method for this, as it’s a quick and easy way to reach your entire membership.

2. Take Responsibility and Own the Mistake

Again, whether it was a severe mistake or not, always take full responsibility. (Yes, even if it was something you didn’t necessarily have a hand in. For example, your website going down.) Passing blame is never a good look, and rarely does it ever help the situation. As a member, it’s helpful when an organization acknowledges a mistake and then takes ownership and it’s much easier to quickly forget about it.

3. Explain the Situation

This depends a little bit on how severe the mistake was. If it was something as minor as getting the date wrong in one of your emails, then there’s really no need to go into a long explanation. You’re human – it happens!

But if it was something that caused a bit more of an inconvenience to your members, then an explanation may help. Without getting into too much detail, explain:

  • What happened
  • How you’ve corrected it or what you’re going to do
  • What your members can expect next (if the issue isn’t completely resolved)

And one more tip: If necessary, showcase how you have your members’ best interests at heart. For example, a few weeks ago, a few features of a software I use daily went down. I was frustrated that it was taking all day to fix, but the company sent out an email saying they had to make a decision regarding which element of the issue to tackle first: getting the features back up and running or securing customer data that was potentially at risk. They decided that, ultimately, the security of customer data was more important, and they explained that in their email. Once that was handled, they would then work on getting the features back up and running.  

Though it was still inconvenient, I was comforted knowing they were doing what was best for me and other customers.

4. When Appropriate, Incorporate Humor

This applies to those minor mistakes we all make – emailing the wrong list, forgetting to add in the right personalization (Hello insert name…rather than their actual name), listing the wrong date or price, etc. Because those are such minor mistakes that we can pretty much all relate to, try approaching your outreach with a sense of humor.

For example, try sending a follow-up email saying, “Man, are Mondays rough or what? We’ve had our coffee now, and HERE’s the correct info we meant to send:”

Your members will likely get a kick out of it – and relate! (Sometimes, you really do just have to laugh at yourself.)

Owning A Mistake: The Best Way to Move On

If there’s only one takeaway you get from this, it should be that the lines of communication between you and your members should ALWAYS be open – especially when it comes to owning a mistake. And like we mentioned, email is typically the best tool for that.

For tips on emailing your membership (and boosting the likelihood they’ll actually read those emails), check out our free guide, Best Practices for Email Marketing, below!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.