When a major corporation suffers a reputation crisis, reputation management is vital for minimizing the damage. Company executives must apologize, then explain what happened, without making excuses and blaming others. This seems obvious is anyone in the reputation management industry, however as revealed on Online Reputation Reviews, it’s not always obvious to executives who see shifting the blame as a way to insulate upper management from repercussions. It’s the equivalent of a young child being scolded for fighting, and then claiming that it is not their fault because the other child started it.
Wells Fargo was recently fined for employees opening accounts without the customer’s knowledge. It was a classic reputation management crisis, deserving of a solid reputation management plan, but sadly, this fact seemed to escape Wells Fargo’s upper management. The company’s Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry is quoted in the Washington Post as saying “it was really more at the lower end of the performance scale, where people apparently were making bad choices to hang on to their job.” If a reputation management firm had reviewed Shrewsberry’s statement first, they would have pointed out that anyone who had ever worked in sales understands that lower level sales associates are not the ones that set unrealistic sales quotas.
While Wells Fargo is now doing the right thing, taking full responsibility and saying that they are eliminating sales quotas, the damage is done. Gaining consumer trust is important for all companies, but it is especially important for a bank. Only time will tell if Wells Fargo’s response if enough to keep the bank’s current customers from fleeing.