Aside

Whole Foods And Trust

When it was revealed that the CEO of Whole Foods had posted anonymous online comments disparaging his competitors, the company properly took a lot of heat. For a company that promises wholesomeness and integrity, misleading people online was a massive violation of its brand promise. It’s a case study in how to break the bonds of trust between a brand and its customers.

Now, months later, comes word that the company has banned its executives from making any comments to online forums that the company doesn’t control (link). This is the wrong answer. If you have a brand that promises trust, the right way to rebuild that trust is more openness, not tighter control.

What Whole Foods should have done was ban all of its employees from making anonymous comments online, but encouraged them to get out and interact with customers on the web. It’s the same as encouraging your employees to talk to customers in the store — the more you interact, the deeper your relationship will be. The ban on messages implies that Whole Foods has something to hide, and it robs the company of one of its best tools for rebuilding trust. It makes the problem worse.

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0 Responses:

  1. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:16 am  |  

    Slightly off topic, but related comment…
    On Tues, 13-Nov NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a segment called Cyber Vigilantes: Do-It-Yourself Justice Online. I think there’s an underlying fundamental question that your blog item and the NPR item point to: “What does our society want with respect to anonymity, identity, privacy, and non-repudiation on the Internet?” It seems to me that the answer is highly context dependent and thus there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It is interesting to note that technologies exist to help in this area, but they haven’t taken hold and become widely used. Is that because the technology is perceived as being clunky and funky, or is there something deeper at work?

    Reply
  2. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:16 am  |  

    Slightly off topic, but related comment…
    On Tues, 13-Nov NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a segment called Cyber Vigilantes: Do-It-Yourself Justice Online. I think there’s an underlying fundamental question that your blog item and the NPR item point to: “What does our society want with respect to anonymity, identity, privacy, and non-repudiation on the Internet?” It seems to me that the answer is highly context dependent and thus there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It is interesting to note that technologies exist to help in this area, but they haven’t taken hold and become widely used. Is that because the technology is perceived as being clunky and funky, or is there something deeper at work?

    Reply
  3. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:16 am  |  

    Slightly off topic, but related comment…
    On Tues, 13-Nov NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a segment called Cyber Vigilantes: Do-It-Yourself Justice Online. I think there’s an underlying fundamental question that your blog item and the NPR item point to: “What does our society want with respect to anonymity, identity, privacy, and non-repudiation on the Internet?” It seems to me that the answer is highly context dependent and thus there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It is interesting to note that technologies exist to help in this area, but they haven’t taken hold and become widely used. Is that because the technology is perceived as being clunky and funky, or is there something deeper at work?

    Reply
  4. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:16 am  |  

    Slightly off topic, but related comment…
    On Tues, 13-Nov NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a segment called Cyber Vigilantes: Do-It-Yourself Justice Online. I think there’s an underlying fundamental question that your blog item and the NPR item point to: “What does our society want with respect to anonymity, identity, privacy, and non-repudiation on the Internet?” It seems to me that the answer is highly context dependent and thus there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It is interesting to note that technologies exist to help in this area, but they haven’t taken hold and become widely used. Is that because the technology is perceived as being clunky and funky, or is there something deeper at work?

    Reply
  5. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:19 am  |  

    Ooops, make that Tues 27-Nov that the TOTN segment aired. — DB

    Reply
  6. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:19 am  |  

    Ooops, make that Tues 27-Nov that the TOTN segment aired. — DB

    Reply
  7. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:19 am  |  

    Ooops, make that Tues 27-Nov that the TOTN segment aired. — DB

    Reply
  8. David I. Bell. November 28, 2007 at 11:19 am  |  

    Ooops, make that Tues 27-Nov that the TOTN segment aired. — DB

    Reply

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