This video from Stephen Colbert is hilarious, unless you are a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 customer. In that case, it’s not so amusing because you probably have burn scars and insurance claims to file. And if you’re Samsung marketing department, have another handful of TUMS.
Samsung needs to extinguish this and video is a part of that. As a result of their phones catching fire, the brand is facing a total meltdown. They’re late night punch-line fodder, the flaming phones made evening news and national headlines, and exploding Note 7 parody videos are going viral.
Take a tip from Delta Airlines! Respond with leadership. Apologize directly to your customers. When they experienced worldwide flight groundings in early August, a debacle of epic proportions, Delta’s CEO immediately delivered a personal message via video:
Public apologies have become something of a mandatory response for leaders of large companies when they foul-up big time. But not all apologies are created equal. Winning back the trust of consumers today requires more than a boilerplate statement that simply acknowledges mistakes were made.
Fortune.com agrees. They spoke with Eric Schiffer, a brand strategy expert and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants based in Los Angeles, who said Samsung needs to woo its customers.
“They need to be very transparent. Invite customers who have been affected to the plants…let go of whoever was in charge of this debacle, and accept responsibility and show goodwill by sending new phones, giving discounts – anything to show the importance of the customer relationship,” he said.
Brand reputation is hard won but easily lost. In a connected, social media-driven world that thrives on bad news, Samsung’s poor handling of the Note 7 saga has become a black mark against the Samsung name. The risk is that this undermines key intangibles like customer loyalty, prestige, desirability and positive brand recognition.
Strike the right note with customers and stakeholders. The first rule of crisis management is to communicate openly and transparently. This is even more important in the tech world, where bad news becomes viral very quickly.