Recently, when I was writing about the Elon Musk/ Twitter deal  – currently headed for court, with Twitter blaming recent revenue drops on uncertainty regarding the acquisition – I mentioned that every organization has vulnerabilities. Some people took exception to this, in the sense that they felt Twitter was being somewhat unethical while they themselves worked hard to operate their business in a more morally correct fashion. 

With that in mind, I think it’s very important to explain that a company can quickly lose customer trust while operating according to its values and standards. For example – Your brand is vulnerable to several factors entirely out of your control. 

The Hacker Steals the Credit Card, You Pay the Price

Let’s say there’s a data breach of the sort Neiman Marcus suffered in 2021 – 4.6 million customers had to be notified that their personal information, credit card numbers, gift card numbers, and other sensitive data had been stolen by hackers. While the luxury retailer immediately took action to mitigate the situation, including mandating all customers change their online passwords, the brand did become less trustworthy in the eyes of some customers. Perhaps the loss of trust was greatest among the brand’s long-time customers, who’d been through previous major data breach issues with Neiman Marcus. 

Bad Things Happen To Good Brands: Be Trustworthy Throughout

Can you ever be completely confident that your brand will not fall victim to a criminal? Of course, you can’t. While brands take precautions, there are no guarantees in this world that your brand will ever be completely safe. In much the same way, brands are vulnerable to failures of the merchandise they sell, the customer experience employees provide, and even interactions your customers have with other people while in your business. 

None of these vulnerabilities arise out of a morally questionable stance, such as Twitter’s choosing to be less than transparent about business operations. However, they all can result in the customer having an emotional experience that causes them to view your brand as less trustworthy. 

If trust is important to you – and in the work we do, we’ve found it’s the brands who are the most loved and trusted that are ultimately the most successful – then it’s essential not to overlook the vulnerabilities your organization does have. Eventually, something will go wrong. Trustworthy brands have put systems in place to maintain and even strengthen customer relationships during problematic events. From a moral perspective, thinking ahead in order to best serve the customer is the right place to be.

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