The past several posts I have written talked about how you gain and build a relationship to build trust so people will do business with you. Once you have earned someone’s trust you need to continue to cultivate the relationship to maintain that trust and business.
It will take a lot of work and effort on your part to establish and build the relationship and a bit more work to maintain the relationship and maintain the trust you have earned by your customer. We all know that it takes much more effort and work to gain a customer than to maintain one. So it is in your best interest to keep the trust-relationship going.
Losing the Trust Relationship
How easy it is for anyone within your company to break the trust relationship and in today’s online world, for the news to spread. It can be devastating to your business. Sometimes the attacks to your business can come from the outside. Today’s consumer can speak up in a blog or a tweet and the whole issue you may be facing go viral in a matter of 24 hours.
Remember the “Pink Slime” story that broke in March of 2012? That story broke in a blog not much more than a year ago. The process of creating this lean ground beef product had been around for more than 10 years and deemed safe by the industry and the USDA. Still the story went viral and went unanswered by the industry and then exploded once it it ABC and the mainstream media.
The USDA came out three weeks after the story broke and pronounced it still a safe process, yet, one company, Beef Products, Inc. had to close three plants and idle more than 600 workers. Another company, AFA Foods had to file bankruptcy and was later sold to CTI Foods. The media, rather than focus on the product or facts, outside of how the beef is processed (no one really appreciates the process of making something like sausage), the media focused on how the story spread through social media and continued to report false information.
Beef industry groups were guilty in maintaining silence during the whole mess, either incapable and not knowing how to respond. This story, which was raised by only a few people had far reaching impact on the lives of real people working the industry. The other impact is the lost trust in the product and how it forced a reformulation of ground beef, that most people eat every day, ultimately raising raising prices for all consumers.
How to Respond to an Attack on Your Reputation
Had the response been timely and personal, trust in the product may not have been broken. The lesson here is you need to listen to what is taking place online that may impact your business directly or indirectly. Then you need to engage in any conversations that are taking place to blunt the negative aspects of the conversation. You may not turn the antagonist into a protagonist, but other people that read the public conversation will know there is a “real” person on the other end not a nameless, faceless company.
What not to do
Here is a list of things you should NOT be doing when a story that impacts your business appears online; a review, blog post, or news story. This list comes from “Attack of the Customer” by Paul Gillin with Greg Gianforte.
- Stay Silent, even after the story has jumped to mainstream media;
- Issue Press Releases instead of putting forth human salespeople (or maybe the proper "spokesperson,” my two cents– jq)
- Show disregard for the emotions underlying critical outrage;
- Relate past positions without elaboration or promise of reconsideration;
- Attack the attackers;
- Blame others for not being able to keep a secret.
- One a similar note, It is almost a case study in how NOT to handle a situation correctly when looking at the administration and how is handled the scandals from, “Fast and Furious”, ”Benghazi”, “IRS”, or “NSA.” How much better would it had been to actually confront the issues head-on, have the proper people come forward and talk about the issue (can you say being transparent?), and actually take action on those responsible. Maybe someone should give the administration this book.
- Download my eBook and post on Reputation Management.
- Next post I will provide a case study on one of my clients and how he helped turn a negative into a positive; “Turning lemons into lemonade.”