I won't rehash the litany of problems Zoom has faced since becoming the most important app on the internet last month. Unless you really haven't been paying attention, you already know about "Zoombombing," the personal information leaks, and the lack of encryption. And while those are very real issues that I usually wouldn't gloss over, what I want to talk about is how the company is handling the massive wave of criticism it has faced over the past few weeks.
For example, yesterday CEO Eric Yuan addressed customer questions during a live stream. While Yuan has already made it clear the company is taking responsibility for the issues with its software, this was the first time he had directly addressed users and apologized.
One of the ironies I think is worth pointing out here, if for no other reason than it's an important lesson for all of us, is that most of Zoom's problems grew out of the company's desire to make the user experience as friction-free as possible. Security and passwords and encryption all introduce friction--which is a good thing because they also keep our personal information safe. But that same friction makes a software product a little harder to use.
For example, passwords are a good way to make sure only your invited guests are able to access your meeting. At the same time, it's another opportunity for someone to not have the right info, not have the password, and not be able to get into your meeting. Balancing that tradeoff (between ease of use and security) is something every company has to figure out.
That aside, I want to focus on one particular quote from Yuan, because it's exactly how every business should respond when it finds itself in the middle of a storm of its own making: "If we find an issue, we'll acknowledge it, and we'll fix it."
Here's how every leader should respond in this situation:
Make yourself available.
Despite the fact Zoom is taking heat from all directions, including from state and federal investigators, the company's CEO is answering questions directly from users during a webinar. That's a big deal because it communicates to the customers that he values their concerns and wants to understand how to better serve their needs.
Acknowledge the mistake.
There's no question Zoom has been upfront about the problems and criticism it has faced. Not only has the company engaged with those who have pointed out those issues, but it has also been transparent about them. Yuan's commitment to acknowledging specific mistakes goes a long way toward restoring trust.
By the way, an apology is actually even more important than simply acknowledging that there's a problem. Many companies miss this. They might find a way to say a mistake has been made without actually admitting it was their fault or apologizing.
Make it right.
Finally, the company has already taken steps to make Zoom more secure. This past weekend, it enabled the waiting room feature by default for its free basic and solo pro accounts and turned on meeting passwords for those, as well. It has also publicly committed to increasing the level of encryption it uses to protect user communications and has stopped sharing user information with third-party providers like Facebook. Those steps are ultimately what matters most when it comes to taking care of your customers.