They hit news anchors all the time. Actors and musicians too. And politicians ... well, they practically have them down to a science.
I’m talking about the gaffes, mishaps, and mistakes that — whether self-imposed or otherwise — are a reality of life.
These events can come in a whole gamut of varieties and severities: from the run-of-the-mill missteps that will plague almost every brand from time to time, to Toronto-Mayor-Rob-Ford-level escapades that can put individuals and entire institutions out for the count.
One of the biggest and most publicized "whoops" of late belongs to the pilots of a recent Southwest flight who landed a Boeing 737 at the wrong airport, seven miles from their intended destination.
What started as headline gold for journalists and a point of irritation among passengers eventually morphed into a more serious blemish for one of the industry's most affable brands, says the Huffington Post.
That’s because although no one was injured in the landing, the runway mistakenly used was revealed to be roughly half the length of those normally needed for a plane that size to land safely.
“That was a surreal moment, where instead of being like ‘Oh, we landed at the wrong airport. This is crazy,’ we were like 'Oh, we were actually in danger,'” said one passenger to USA Today.
Airlines, like big banks, are no stranger to bad PR. Yet these institutions may actually be slightly better shielded from negative consumer reactions than most due to a perceived lack of choice — i.e., do business with us, someone just like us, or don’t do business at all. Yet credit unions can afford no such luxury.
Whether it involves bouncing back from brand missteps, addressing compliance shortfalls, or mitigating fallout from theft, fraud, or online attack, credit unions can and do come away from these events less scathed — or in some cases, even stronger — than you might expect.
The Golden 1 Credit Union ($8.2B, Sacramento, CA) is a prime example. Hit with the possible threat of having members' information compromised following the now infamous Target data breach, the credit union followed three key rules to make the most out of a bad situation.
1. Be Honest, Up-Front, And Active
It’s often better to readily admit when you may have a problem or shortcoming than to deny until it's proven otherwise. According to the Fresno Bee, while Golden 1 found no initial instances of fraud, it automatically replaced 72,000 member cards at a cost of around $400,000, just as a precaution.
Not every institution could mimic that gesture to the same degree, but playing it safe and taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive can still have a big impact on your members' trust levels moving forward.
2. Don’t Overcorrect
Some financial institutions that were in the same predicament as Golden 1 chose to levy spending or withdrawal limits following the breach. But by avoiding these overly aggressive security steps, the credit union prevented causing more headaches for members trying to access funds during the busy holiday shopping season.
3. Present Real, Lasting Solutions
In addition to automatically reissuing cards, the credit union also used this breach as a teaching moment and an opportunity to raise awareness of its other available resources.
“We have a large percentage of our members who use our online and mobile banking services, which is great for daily account monitoring,” said Donna Bland, Golden 1’s president and CEO, speaking to the Sacramento Bee. “We also like to encourage mobile and text alerts. Whenever a transaction is conducted on the card that has alerts linked to it, you’ll receive an alert. Members can sign up for that and it’s all free.”