New year brings new challenges.

Author:Lusky, Mark
Position:CUSTOMER Service

Of the customer service lessons learned in 2016, none is more poignant than maintaining the trust of your customers. Just ask Samsung, whose initial responses to Galaxy Note 7 reports of battery fires and explosions were viewed as somewhat tepid.

As the NewYork Times framed it last fall, "After Samsung Electronics halted production of its high-end smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, it posted a statement on its website telling owners of the phone to power it down immediately and contact the outlet they bought it from to obtain a refund or an exchange ... But for people to see those words, they had to click a link at the top of Samsung's home page with the not-so-urgent label 'Updated Consumer Guidance for the Galaxy Note 7.' ... the instructions had not been posted to Samsung's Facebook page or the company's Twitter account ... For some who work in crisis management, it was a baffling and overly passive way for the South Korean electronics giant to deal with a prominent problem that has worsened in the last month. 'That ought to be more visible - this is pretty serious,' Andrew Gilman, the chief executive of the crisis communications firm CommCore Consulting Group, said of the warning on Samsung's home page. The brand has 'to show they care and are concerned' through consistent communication on their home page, Twitter, Facebook and other social channels, he said."

Since Samsung has enjoyed a stellar reputation in many areas over many years, the company likely will continue healthy growth and higher revenues over the long haul. Flowever, if this had been a less-prestigious or smaller company, this one misstep could have proven fatal. Such is the fate that befalls many smaller companies without the resources or reputation to draw upon in a crisis.

That makes it even more important for the product manufacturing community to "be clean, come clean, stay clean." To be clean, a manufacturer must be transparent to its customers. To come clean, a manufacturer must immediately address major issues with complete candor and gravitas. Then, the company must stay clean to demonstrate its commitment to fix problems and air any "dirty laundry."

Obviously, this by itself won't make a product manufacturer successful. But, it sure can make one unsuccessful in a hurry.

As we move forward in the New Year, here are some salient tips for building and maintaining trust with your marketplace:

Say only what you can prove. Don't make dubious or outright false claims...

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