A Lesson About Trust

by Ben Spradling | Dec 9, 2019 3:02:57 PM

Any hope Boeing had of reversing a recent streak of negative
headlines was grounded again when news of a mechanical issue broke late last
month. Unfortunately for the aerospace company, this latest incident serves as
yet another example of why trust and transparency should be at the forefront of
communication for all businesses.

The Seattle Times reported
on Nov. 27 that the fuselage of Boeing’s new 777x airframe experienced a tear
during a stress test performed last September. The positive news for Boeing is
the rupture likely isn’t significant enough to warrant any retests. The
less-than-positive news, however, is that knowledge of the tear became public
only after the Seattle Times acquired photos of the damage. What those images
reveal are findings both more severe and counter to what the company shared
previously.

A lack of transparency has developed into an unfortunate trend
for the industry leader. In the aftermath of a pair
of Boeing 737 Max airplanes crashing
within five months of each other – accidents
resulting in more than 340 combined deaths – the company has been accused of
failing to disclose important information regarding safety issues and system
flaws in its aircrafts.

These events have cast a cloud over a business with deep
roots in the Puget Sound. Boeing first began operations in Washington state in
1916. More than 100 years later, it serves as the state’s largest private
employer and is directly responsible for injecting roughly a $100B in revenue into
the economy.

Despite that legacy, the fallout from recent events has
impacted Boeing’s reputation, particularly within some of its most important
markets. NPR recently reported
that confidence in Boeing among airline pilots has been shaken, in part,
because of the company’s failure to adequately disclose important information
regarding their aircrafts.

Airline passengers are feeling unnerved, too. More than 80 %
of responses to a survey included
in that same NPR report said they would “avoid flying on a 737 Max in its first
six months back, and more than half said they'd pay a higher fare just to avoid
flying on a Max.

Rattled reactions from consumers and stakeholders result
when they aren’t sure they can believe what a business is telling them. They’re
also a reminder of why transparency and honesty are at the core of the Standards
of Trust that power Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Consumers rely
on companies to clearly disclose information that may impact their decision to
purchase a service or product. Boeing’s continuing turmoil is an unfortunate
example of the consequences for not supplying those details.

Whether it’s an international aerospace company or a small
business serving a local community, any organization is capable of suffering a
setback. The key to surviving those struggles with consumer trust intact is for
businesses to communicate with honesty and transparency on ongoing issues that
may impact a consumer’s decision to buy. Because when honesty and transparency
are absent, what results is likely just more bad news.

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