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Nothing is more important than trust

The diesel emissions scandal has shown us once again just how important trust is. We only seem to be able to recognise the true value of trust once it has broken. If only companies and individuals thought about what trust means when taking some of their less than sensible decisions, the world would be a better place for business.

Billions are spent by marketing executives building brands and creating relationships with consumers to build trust. Trust is fragile commodity and can be wiped out in the blink of an eye by a careless or ill-considered act.

The executives at Volkswagen know more than most what losing the trust of customers means right now. But they also know that all is not lost. They are not the first company to fowl up and they won't be the last.

Winning trust back is not easy either. It costs a shed load of cash. But it can be done. There's some good examples in the auto industry that show what is possible. I've got one word for you: recalls.

Let's take Toyota - a company that took a huge hit just five years back. Toyota basically built its brand on quality and a building a bond of trust with the customer. In 2010 it all went wrong.

Toyota's floor mats were shown to trap accelerator pedals following a collision that killed four people. This highlighted a series of problems that are suspected of causing a total of 37 deaths in the United States. Worldwide 9 million cars were recalled. That's bad, really bad.

Akio Toyoda, the president of the company, issued what's been called the perfect apology. It was heartfelt, humble and compassionate. From the get go Toyota was not acting as a corporate entity, but showed the public that it was a company where real people, with real lives and real emotions worked.

You'll not be surprised to read that its brand took a big, big hit after the news came out. But five years down the track Toyota is back on the up.

Today Toyota is the world's 6th most valuable brand according to the Interbrand's 16th annual Best Global Brands report which was released this month. Toyota beats every other automotive business hands down.

Toyota has left the dark days of 2010 behind, but it's not forgotten them They shape what happens today. Let's hope Volkswagen does the same thing over the coming months and years to repair its brand and come back stronger.

Trust is everything is business. It's not something that anyone should take lightly.

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Steven Schoefs
Nexus Communication - Chief Editor - Fleet Europe

For the past three years Steven Schoefs has been Editor in Chief of Fleet Europe. In this role he is responsible for the editorial content Fleet Europe's magazine, its website www.fleeteurope.com and the annual Fleet Europe Forum & Awards, the platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge among decision makers and peers in the fleet industry, held at a different location in Europe each year, and attracting over 500 fleet managers, owners, experts and others with an interest in fleet At the heart of his editorial philosophy is the quality of content and the search for new fleet management developments and trends, whether it is in terms of product, services, legislation, mobility issues or market evolutions. Steven also coordinates the International Fleet Managers' Institute (IFMI), a platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge among peers in the fleet industry. He is also involved in strategic and budget issues and for managing the team of company and freelance journalists. Steven has always worked very closely with Caroline Thonnon, the Business Development Director and herself a recognised authority on the fleet business.

Steven Schoefs blog will focus on key trends and developments within the European fleet market and the automotive market, as well as on the evolving role of the international fleet manager.

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