Trust Me

By: Richard Berger

October 8, 2015

When HighPoint Senior Advisor Jim Bennett penned a HighPoint InSights article last year on the importance of corporations building trust, who knew it would become such a hot topic in recent months? As Jim pointed out, trust isn’t just a nice perk achieved while growing market share and profitability. Trust can directly impact your ability to retain and grow your business.

Clearly this piece was not read by the former CEO of Volkswagen whose firm has lost the trust of just about everyone who matters, including his customers.  VW didn’t just cheat on emission scores, they did potentially irreparable damage to their brand. This is perhaps the most extreme recent example of automakers running afoul of regulators and the public trust.

Of course, automakers aren’t the only culprits, with the salmonella case involving the now defunct Peanut Company of America, whose ex-CEO was just sentenced to 28 years in prison, being but one example.

So when that trust is breached (intentionally or by default), what does it take to earn it back? How can companies manage the ensuing crisis?

Tylenol has become the case study of choice when it comes to successfully handling a crisis and not just retaining, but even enhancing, consumer trust in its products. Tylenol’s response comes up every time a company appears to breach the trust of its customers, and the recent VW scandal is no example.

It’s not at all clear how the VW case will play out, but it certainly reminds me that trust is a priceless commodity. And whether you need to build it or restore it, taking it for granted is sure to impact your bottom line.