communicating corporate failures conversation bubble between two people with an xCommunicating corporate failures can be a tricky situation.  For starters, no one really looks forward to getting bad news, because – let’s face it – it is not fun or exciting.  In fact, you may likely feel a knot in your stomach in anticipation of the disappointment yet to come.  While a normal reaction, how do you address the problem without launching a negative ripple-effect of events with concerned stakeholders or trusting consumers?

In my experience, it’s all about how you prepare your conversation.  Let’s explore a corporate example to see how this works.

In 2019 Google Makes the Choice to Close the Failing Google+

Ever since it’s inception in 2010, Google+ has appeared to be the awkward “wanna-be” to the highly popular Facebook social network.  For years, I have seen professionals struggle with understanding the role or purpose of having a Google+ account when other communities like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter have thrived as the leaders in social media. But now, the search engine giant has made a decision to shut down their attempt at participating in a social media network for good and focus upon their business users and improving new features to support enterprise communications.  Why? More importantly…why now?

Realizing that Google+ has been struggling for years to even be considered a serious social community contender, the real problem surfaced in early 2018 when Google, rather calmly announced that over 500,000 Google+ users data had been exposed to third-party developers via a bug in their program that went undetected in their infrastructure since 2015. Communicating corporate failures from a corporate stakeholder perspective seem logical when they’re doing their best to their losses instead of investing more money into an already dying product.  But for those avid fans who are still relying on the community for daily communications.  It going away could leave them feeling angry or unappreciated.  While there is a risk of losing these customers to other platforms; honesty is the best policy, and honestly sharing their situation may deflect anger and allow them to embrace logical sympathy.

A Great Example How to Accentuate the Positive

In a very well prepared conversation, Google announced publically that they were going to shut down the struggling social network and at the exact same time, emphasized their new focus on privacy and their position to give users more control over the data they share with the Apps that collaborate with Google.  They came clean and took responsibility for their error through public admission;  and admitted they learned a valuable lesson.  But still, critics arose in both social media and technology communities pointing fingers at all of the users they’ve left in the lurch.  These articles circulate randomly around the internet causing that “social anxiety” complex, but in reality, did Google really leave those users in the lurch?

Sure, they’ll have to make a change to their comfortable routine; but they have a more robust community to go to like Facebook. Additionally, they gave their users advance warning and specific step-by-step directions on what to do to download their data so nothing important is lost.  What more could they ask for?  I mean if this was a human dying, wouldn’t it be great if someone gave you directions on download all their memories before they were gone for good?  Sure change is difficult, but without change, our minds are unable to grow and evolve.

Handling Damage Control

The real thing Google needs to focus on here is their users – those individuals and communities who have used this product and placed their trust in Google.  While the critics see them delivering a 1-2 punch with news of a data breach and – to make matters worse – they’re going to evicting them from the community altogether forcing them to relocate their connections and conversations elsewhere; there is a graceful way to approach this sticky situation.

While there may be no easy way to say it or get around a bad situation, the best thing to do is to focus on the next step and keep moving forward.  The Google team did an excellent job of this by providing a wide range of customer support documents that cover everything you needed to know about the saving your content, and preparing for the closure of their Google+ profile.

The Moral of This Story

We can all learn from the mistakes of others – even the giants.  It takes a strong person/company to admit to mistakes, but sometimes, even a stronger community to work together and move forward.

Julia Eudy - Golden Services Group

About the Author:  Julia R. Eudy is the C.E.O. and Communications Specialist of Golden Services Group.  Her experience in the sales and marketing field and life-long hobby of analyzing generational traits and the subconscious mind have led to her success in developing digital sales funnels and interpreting data analytics to improve ROI.  She is also a STOP.THINK.CONNECT partner and can help you spot potential cyber-security threats and can help you limit risks for your business.