By secretly tampering with its cars’ emissions controls for years, German automaker Volkswagen has dealt itself a self-inflicted wound. The company’s only hope of rebuilding trust:
• Acknowledge publicly that it brought this catastrophe on itself. The company must make such an acknowledgment regardless of consequences.
• Stop announcing a “sweeping” restructure of operations. Card shuffling executives further reveals confusion and disarray. VW needs one visible face.
• Clearly explain how it will make things right with millions of customers.
• Say that regardless of legal consequences, it will be open and transparent.
• Start behaving with honesty and integrity. That can be done overnight through a moderated forum through which customers can vent anger.
Openly communicate using other online channels. It’s not difficult but it mandates brutal honesty.
— Adapted from “6 Steps for Volkswagen to Begin Rebuilding Trust,” David Henderson blog.