One of the most important things you can do as a company is to keep your promises. That shouldn’t be news, everyone realizes this. Yet it is amazing how often companies ignore this simple truth.
But next to actual promises made by companies and their representatives, there is also something like the implied promise. These are expectations your users have, even without you ever having said that. They can even be opposite to what you have declared to be your company policy.
As a company it is important that you identify these promises as fast as possible. You can do that trough conversation analysis, or in non-buzzword-speech: “listening”.
You need to know what promises float around in the common perception, what caused them and how much people care about these. It can be quite interesting to make some of them official policy. The ones that arise frequently and that you can’t make official, for whatever reason, should be addressed immediately. Whenever you have bad news, you should be the one to communicate it. The sooner you tell people, the better. And make sure that you have an answer to the big “why” question. BTW “It’s company policy” is not an answer. People expect you to be accountable for your decisions. (yet another implied promise, really) When you make this statement you should understand that it will feel as if you have taken something away. Respect that people will feel like that. It doesn’t matter that it’s their perception that was wrong. Somewhere along the way, that perception arose and it’s not unlikely that you are one who caused it.
What you are doing is pre-emptive damage control. Breaking an implied promise, no matter how justified you may feel or even be, is damaging the reputation of your business. There are many possible sources of these implied promises. I won’t list them all since, quite honestly, I don’t know all of them. The principle is much broader than people may realize.
* common industry standards and practices
* ethics and decency norms beyond the letter of the law
* habits created by your staff
* unofficial company publications
* erroneous reviews of your company/product *…