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Key Factors in Rebuilding Trust After Your Company’s Reputation is Damaged

  • Harvard Business School authors look at how businesses build, lose, and regain trust
  • Companies face greater challenges in building trust, but can adopt several strategies to do so
  • Recovering from a loss of trust is a long-term process that requires patience

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

A business’s reputation can be shattered by any number of incidents, ranging from a breach of customers’ data to a sexual harassment scandal. A recent book co-authored by a Harvard Business School professor and research associate says companies face greater challenges in building trust and must be prepared for the long haul if they lose it.

Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta’s work, The Power of Trust, analyzes real world examples of how companies have built, lost, and regained trust. The authors cover both effective actions to address trust issues and incidents where a business bungled their response.

  • Companies need to work harder to earn trust, as consumers are less likely to see CEOs as trustworthy or believe they’ll make the right decisions
  • Steps to establishing trust include creating valuable products and services, taking actions to pursue good intentions, fair treatment of employees and customers, and taking responsibility for their actions
  • Key elements in building trust include demonstrating competence, motive, the means to act fairly, and the overall impact of the company
  • Business owners often see apologies as an admission of guilt, but an effective mea culpa can do much to assuage the public as well as employees
  • Fallout from mistakes can have long-term consequences, so businesses must be patient while actively taking steps to rebuild their reputation

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