After months of planning, preparation, content creation and all the other hard work that goes into creating a compelling webinar, the XYZ company (actual company name witheld) was finally ready to launch their very first webinar event.


The speaker was lined up, the slide presentation was finalized and the webinar vendor selected.


Thanks to some great marketing Best Practices work on our part (sameless Astadia plug ) there were 3 times as many registrations as the company ever expected. The virtual room was packed and everyone was ready to get started. Customary housekeeping announcements were made (be sure to mute your phone, there will be Q&A at the end, etc).


All was going brilliantly until about 10 minutes prior to the end of the webinar when a faint conversation started in the background on the webinar conference phone line. One of the participants forgot to mute their phone and his conversation with one of his employees was getting louder and louder.


The audience soon realized that the conversation he was having was a very personal HR discussion with an employee about their prolonged illness. "Do you need to take an extended leave of absence?" "What is your overal prognosis?" It was extremely uncomfortable for everyone to have to listen to, even briefly.


Now, normally the moderator would have simply done a "MUTE ALL", however she couldn't because the presenter was calling in remotely on the phone and of course that would have muted him as well.


Since this was their very first webinar the moderator never thought that simply having the presenter dial in as an attendee would be an issue. Obviously a lesson well learned and never repeated.


But it's not what this company didn't do that is the point of this post, it is what they did to recover from this that set them apart.


Despite numerous attempts to get this person's attention and get him to mute his line, it quickly became clear the only solution was to stop the webinar. Since there was only 10 minutes left, it didn't make sense for everyone to have to hang up and redial back in, this time with the presenter able to mute all.


Instead, the moderator apologized profusely, ended the webinar immediately, and made a promise to make it up to everyone.


Here is exactly how the XYZ Company did that:

  1. They called each and every attendee and personally apologized for the disruption
  2. They sent out an email with an invitation to a live "encore" presentation to be held within 2 days
  3. They automatically entered all attendees into a contest, giving away a new iPad2 at the end of the encore presentation to one lucky winner
  4. They also offered a comprehensive, on-site technology cost-audit, no matter where the customer was located - all at no charge


The good-will the XYZ Company generated by their actions as a result of this disaster did more than any webinar content ever could in building a positive lasting impression.


So often we hear about companies who seek to hide or flat out deny obvious product or service glitches, but in this case, the XYZ Company turned what was a total disaster into an incredible opportunity to build both trust and value.


By the end of the encore webinar, some that attended were ready to buy.


Many that didn't buy either complimented the XYZ company to other colleagues and/or sent complimentary emails to the XYZ Company directly. Some even blogged about the experience, including me.


The original webinar was meant to communicate how great the XYZ company is. But it was the actions they took after the disaster that proved it.




Chances are, you may never have to expereience anything like this, but I encourage you to actually embrace disasters if and when they occur.


Social Media highlights a whole host of horrible experiences, which is why so many companies are reluctant to jump in. They are afraid of negative comments, creating negative publicity. But if actions really do make the best content, then what a perfect place to actively look for opportunities to build trust, in part by repairing trust in front of others.


Steve Kellogg

-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia

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