How to repair customer trust after negative publicity: The roles of competence, integrity, benevolence, and forgiveness



The purpose of the comprehensive model presented here is to explain the underlying mechanism by which corporations can repair customer trust after negative publicity. The study sets out to examine corporate informational, affective, and functional initiatives managers take to influence three trustworthiness factors—competence, benevolence, and integrity—and to elicit forgiveness. A scenario-based experiment conducted to test the conceptual model found support for most hypotheses. According to the results, rebuilding a trustworthy image and earning consumer forgiveness are crucial steps in repairing consumer trust. A clear pattern of influential factors for different trustworthiness aspects was found, indicating that affective initiatives are the most effective strategy in shaping a corporate image of integrity and benevolence, and that providing sufficient information is a key activity for enhancing consumers' judgment about the firm's competence. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.