It’s a fact of business, just as much as it is a fact of life that every now and again things go wrong. But what do you do if you or your client’s website suddenly stops working?

The first thing that people in our industry think of is a Penguin or Panda update but there can be a multitude of other potential causes.

Perhaps there’s a Robots.txt issues, or maybe your redirects are not set-up correctly following a site migration. Whatever it is, when it hits the fan, here’s what you need to do…

Take a step back and calm down

This doesn’t mean that you should treat the issue lightly but there’s nothing worse than panicking, rushing in and making the problem worse.

Assess the level of the problem

Just because one person thinks the sky has fallen on their head doesn’t necessarily mean that’s true. Assess what the impact of the problem is first before tackling it.

Find the cause

Don’t do this on your own. Get a couple of other people who understand what’s going on to help. You may find the issue on your own but the quicker you find it the better.

Own up

If you can find the issue in a couple of minutes then fix it, then tell your client. If it can’t be done quickly then put a plan in place to resolve the issue and then tell your client what’s happened, what the impact is and how it’s going to be fixed.

On the flip side of this don’t hide it from your boss or your client. Things going wrong are bad but covering them up is even worse.

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Moving on

But can any good come out of a bad situation? Of course it can…

Learn

Once the dust has settled and things are back on track the worst thing that you can do is forget about it and let the issue happen again. Find the cause and deal with it and prepare things so that it either can’t arise again or if it does you have a plan in place to efficiently deal with it.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

All of us have been on the wrong end of someone complaining and often it is easy to let it wash over your head, moan a bit about your client or your boss, put together a quick report or an email to pacify them and then carry on again.

We are all clients or customers and I’m sure that in the past all of us have felt like complaining about a product or service we have received. So if your client or your boss makes a comment about your service then try to see it from their perspective.

Question yourself

Be completely honest with yourself. Have you given the best you could have done? If the answer is yes then find out the reason why your client isn’t happy.

It might just be that they have had a bad day; perhaps they didn’t get the message that you had called them a million times, or they may have misunderstood your email. It might be that they are the type of person who you can walk over hot coals for and they will never be happy. If this is the case then you either need to accept it, evaluate your long term future with the client or get another job but remember, before you make any response, step back, be honest and put yourself in their shoes.

Evolve

Nothing or nobody is perfect. Everything has glitches. Even websites run by multi-national household brands can play up from time to time! Face up, analyse, fix, evaluate, learn and move on to fight another day. You can never eradicate problems but you can give it a darn good try. Good luck.

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