So often do we read, and maybe even experience the consequences as consumers, of corporate faux pas like food contamination or toy malfunction events, ultimately charging our favorite brands with the task of righting wrongs (e.g., recalling, refunding, apologizing), and more importantly, saving face.
Frankly, in the hustle and bustle of today’s business environment crises are unavoidable, but that most certainly does not mean that you can’t mitigate the effects, keeping a small swell from turning to a stormy sea. Inasmuch as an interdependence exists between company and client, it behooves the most successful organizations to reestablish trust, rapport and perceived legitimacy with their stakeholders when the ball’s been dropped.
Unsurprisingly, social media can act as powerful instruments of resolution. Schultz and Göritz (2011) suggest that the smartest and most proactive organizations are those that regard social media “as efficient communication tools for ‘repairing’ the reputation and preventing boycott in crisis situations” (p. 20). Emphasizing social media’s dialogic characteristics, researchers claim that increased corporate communication via sites like Twitter and Facebook should almost always aid in the recovery of organizational reputations (Schultz and Göritz, 2011; Becker & Nobre, 2014).
But, we still have yet to answer how exactly businesses should carry themselves to the pulpit when poor customer service or product issues threaten a continued livelihood. Fortunately, Colapinto and Benecchi (2014) conducted research in this area, arguing that “[i]t is relevant for [crisis managers] to manage and not disguise problems” (p. 224), tipping their hats to the meat and potatoes of our discussion: transparency.
If and when your business arrives at a critical juncture, it is imperative that you be as transparent as possible with your public, poised, deferential and ready and able to disclose the details regarding your amends. Invest in a penitent, responsible disposition, and you’ll be sure to see a worthy return—customers, past and present…their faith restored.
As a business, you should consider all communication receiver-oriented; the sooner you recognize that the power’s on the other side and that you owe it to your customers to remedy any headache you may have caused, the more you will be forgiven and respected.
Becker, K., & Nobre, H. (2014). Social Network Reputation Management: An International Study. Journal of Promotion Management, 20(4), 436-451.
Colapinto, C., & Benecchi, E. (2014). The presentation of celebrity personas in everyday twittering: managing online reputations throughout a communication crisis. Media, Culture & Society, 36(2), 219-233.
Schultz, F., Utz, S., & Göritz, A. (2011). Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via twitter, blogs and traditional media. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 20-27.