With the growth of social media and the vast connectedness of our world today, online reputation is growing more critical. Many companies pay significant amounts of money to avoid reputation problems; however, mistakes still happen.
Managing your online reputation helps avoid preventable issues and generates a task force ready to defend your brand if disaster does strike.
Throughout the last few decades, a few large companies, including JetBlue, Target, and BP Oil, faced big hits to their reputation. Although the root of their crisis’ was out of the company’s control, many can learn from these experiences to build back their reputation and defend their brand.
This article uncovers the substantial reputation setbacks these companies faced and what they did to bounce back.
In early 2007, JetBlue suffered a humongous reputation cut when a significant ice storm crossed the JFK airport tarmac. Passengers were stuck on the plane sitting on the tarmac for over 8 hours.
Because of the intensity of the ice storm, 1,000 other JetBlue flights were canceled, leaving many upset and stranded customers.
Weather is unpredictable, and this flight crisis was out of Jet Blue’s control; however, they experienced a lot of backlash due to the ice storms.
The recovery from this crisis cost JetBlue over 30 million dollars in efforts to reimburse over 130,000 customers.
The CEO appeared on major television shows to describe the tragedy, and he did everything in his power to be candid and transparent with the community.
It would be easy to blame something like this on the weather, take customers’ money, and not refund flights, but JetBlue felt that they owed it to their customers to make things right.
As part of restoring its reputation, JetBlue introduced a customer bill of rights, the first of its kind in the industry. The customer bill of rights is outlined below.
The first of Jet Blue’s customer rights is the company’s promise to communicate general information with fliers. This includes notifying customers of delays, diversions, and cancellations.
Communicating this information comes in all forms, via Jet Blue’s website, phone calls, flight information display system, airport announcement, onboard announcement, email, or text message.
Notifying flyers of information regarding their flight enables JetBlue to avoid another crisis, like angry customers sitting on the tarmac for 8-hours.
Giving customers and notifying them of compensation is another aspect of JetBlue’s bill of rights.
Suppose a flier books their flight by calling JetBlue or booking on their website, and the flight is eligible for compensation. In that case, the customer will receive an email within seven days before their departure.
This gives peace of mind to the flier, knowing that they don’t have to call and ask about compensation every time they plan to fly with JetBlue.
JetBlue commits to helping customers through the frustration of canceled flights due to unforeseen circumstances.
Customers are given the option to receive a full refund or choose to be re-accommodated on the next available flight with no additional cost or rate if their flight is canceled.
Sometimes delays are inevitable, like the ice storm of 2007. However, JetBlue commits to compensating customers when delays fall into controllable irregularity.
These delays are due to problems with the plane, mechanical issues, or other delays under Jet Blue’s control.
Various forms of compensation are available for fliers affected by these types of delays, depending on the length of the delay. The longer the delay, the more compensation a customer can receive.
These customer rights helped JetBlue regain the trust of their customers and allows them to continue to fulfill their company slogan, “you above all.”
This is one of the ways JetBlue was able to use reputation management to defend their brand during a crisis.
BP Oil Spill
In the Spring of 2010, BP Oil had the largest oil spill in U.S. history. As one can imagine, this spill was detrimental not only to the environment and the communities surrounding it but also to BP Oil’s reputation.
Over 200 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving many coastlines affected. These coastlines include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Although this accident was not preventable by BP Oil, it still had a significant impact on its reputation and brand for many years to come.
Days after the spill, the community was in uproar about how BP responded to the spill, including remarks from President Barack Obama. None of which were great publicity for the affected company.
BP Oil released a statement telling the public what they were doing to clean up the spill and prevent another one from happening in the future. Their crisis clean-up involved assessments of the well and subsea blowout preventer, plans for drilling a relief well, and several other initiatives.
In the initial press release, the team said they were “determined to do everything in their power to contain the oil spill and resolve the situation as rapidly, safely, and effectively as possible.” Although the oil spill could not be cleaned up overnight, the initial oil flow was stopped three months later.
BP Oil took substantial financial deficits from the disaster. Still, they were ultimately able to recover from its near $6 billion loss and developed multiple campaigns and initiatives to be more environmentally friendly.
Like many other corporations, BP Oil has foundations and values. Since the 2010 oil spill, they have been committed to improving people’s lives and caring for our planet.
Although BP’s reputation took a significant hit, they have taken many steps to help the environment and show its commitment to learning from past mistakes.
Hacking Target During the Holidays
The holidays are a big target for hackers, especially during significant sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Target was the victim of one of these large hacking jobs in November 2013. Over two weeks, hackers stole personal information and credit and debit card account information from millions of Target customers.
Hackers sold this information on black-market and fraud websites, leaving Target with a significant disaster to clean up.
Like the BP Oil Spill, this crisis was out of the control of Target, yet it still damaged its reputation and hindered the trust of millions of customers.
While trying to recover from this devastating incident, Target took a substantial financial hit, and the CEO lost his job. Aside from the financial loss, Target responded in the right way, regaining the trust of those customers and attracting new customers along the way.
A few months after the breach, Target posted how they were working on security and technology enhancements on their corporate site. Being open and transparent with the public allows others to see that the corporation is working on making things right.
Some of the things that Target did to improve security included enhanced monitoring and logging, reviewing and limiting vendor access, and enhanced security of accounts. Over 1,800 stores were equipped to accept credit cards with enhanced features, making them as secure as banks.
Reputation recovery takes time, but only two years after the Target breach, their sales had gone up nearly 40%, representing the trust of customers was back in tow.
Why Is Reputation Management Important
The crisis’ that struck JetBlue, Target, and BP Oil was out of their control; however, each of these companies took considerable hits to their reputation.
With the growth of social media, video streaming, and third-party apps, managing reputation and defending brands can be complex and demanding. One angry customer, a video circulating the internet, or even a few bad reviews, can take down a brand and its reputation.
Businesses and executives may not think that investing in reputation management is worth the cost. But, as the internet continues to consume the lives of millions, online reputation management is a necessary function worth investing in.
Investing in reputation management and brand defending now can save a company millions when disaster strikes down the road.