Your image is influenced by your actions as much as what you say. There’s no better example of this than Google’s announcement that it may withdraw from China if it is unable to run an un-restricted operation in the future.
The company’s decision in 2006 to agree to the Chinese Government’s terms and conditions for operating in the country; screening sensitive information from the Google.cn service, caused many commentators to question the credibility of Google’s “do no evil” corporate mantra.
It signalled that even the world’s search superpower and presumed exponent of a newer, better, more moral form of capitalism would bow to the harsh realities of doing business in China.
If Google wanted a big slice of the action in the world’s fastest, biggest, potentially most lucrative emerging market, it had to play by rules dictated by a single party state with cold war values, just like everybody else.
One of those will certainly be to Google’s own public perception. It may be that on balance Google’s brand is more valuable to it than the Chinese market, but I certainly like Google a bit more today.
In contrast I don’t like First Capital Connect and the service it has failed to provide over the last month or so due to a very British combination of strike action and snow. If you live on the route, you won’t need me to explain this; if you don’t, see this.
A very different business to Google, but the same principle applies; the company’s actions (or in actions) are very much affecting its public image.
This sort of thing is right up there in the worst nightmares of any consumer brand.
First Capital Connect has it a bit easier in the short term than say a drinks brand; they have a virtual monopoly over the route which services the City area connecting south London and north London, up to Bedford.
So in the short term there isn’t perhaps the urgency to act. In the long term however, the rail company has their franchise to worry about.
Winning back the trust of customers in this case will be tough. But it might be do-able. First Capital Connect could redeem itself, if it does the right thing/s.