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Self-Imploding Brands & Missed Trust Signals

Self-Imploding Brands & Missed Trust Signals

[By Carrie Morgan of Rock the Status Quo]

PR is a different kind of beast these days; a digital one. We’re now direct ambassadors of trust and reputation.

I had an interesting customer experience yesterday that reminded me how easy it is to break someone’s trust in a brand.

One of my favorite brands is—was—a simplified graphic design program that I even mention in my new book, Above The Noise (in bookstores January 27). They just launched a new spin-off product that sounded fantastic and they wanted feedback, so I subscribed.

Long story short, I ran into usability issues with their product that cost me hours of time I couldn’t spare that day since I was on a very tight deadline. Because it wasn’t intuitive how the software worked —and there were a few feature glitches—important graphics were lost. By the time I was ninety minutes into a task that should have taken five minutes, frustration was turning into anger.

I needed help and I needed it fast.

I reached out on Twitter and I received a prompt response, but they pointed me to a form on their website to create a customer service ticket. When the response came, it was instructions on how to save an image—not helpful. Not only did it not fit the problem, answer my questions or try to help an urgent situation, but the tone of the email implied that the problem I was having didn’t exist. (Since when do beta products not have glitches? Hello??) Instead of addressing the problem and my frustration, the email response had a disconnect that came across as insulting. Condescending.

It added fuel to the fire, taking me from frustrated to angry.

Instead of a neutral or positive experience with the product, poor customer service ignited negativity and hostility toward the brand. The frustration was never solved; plus, my feedback was not respected when they were the ones asking for it.

Poor handling of my crisis became a powerfully negative trust signal. It told me that I wouldn’t get assistance in a crisis, and that user feedback was not valued.

I’d learned that while they asked for feedback, and that gave the appearance of caring, the actions of the customer service representative showed the opposite was true.

I couldn’t trust them.

If I had complained on Twitter and/or Facebook, left a product review, or included the name of the brand in this post, that customer experience would have impacted reputation.

Each complaint, review and negative trust signal that I left online for others to find would impact THEIR levels of trust, too.

The Importance of Trust Signals

As we become more digitally sophisticated, our evolution is creating something interesting. We have a powerful ability to wrap our arms around trust signals: what they are, how they impact change and reputation, and how to influence them.

We can intentionally create trust signals around specific areas of expertise, targeting specific audiences. We can also help our clients identify what trust signals are, their risk areas, and where they are missing opportunities to create them.

We can become mindful of trust signals, maybe even through regular audits specifically looking at positive and negative signals and their overall impact on perception and reputation.

It’s never been more important to match our actions to our messaging.

Some of the largest brands are self-imploding because they don’t. They invest thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions even, in marketing and traditional PR, but are penny-wise and pound-foolish by ignoring trust signals happening elsewhere. Either they aren’t monitoring trust signals, or they’re neglecting to create them.

Are you listening?

Top 1% Influencer Carrie Morgan just released her first book: Above The Noise: Creating Trust, Value & Reputation Using Basic Digital PR. Already endorsed by Jay Baer, Chris Brogan, Ann Handley and Mark Schaefer with a foreword by Gini Dietrich, it’s an important read for those struggling to integrate content marketing, SEO and social media into traditional public relations tactics.

Carrie blogs at Rock The Status Quo and leads one of the largest Twitter chats in our industry, #PRprochat, every first Thursday at 3pm EST. She is a digital PR consultant in Phoenix, Arizona.

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