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Toyota’s Pledge to Customers

In a new ad, TMS President and COO Jim Lentz sums up Toyota’s comprehensive program to improve quality controls worldwide. To see the ad, right-click and "Save Target As" for the PDF: http://www.toyota.com/recall/ToyotasPledgeToYou.pdf.

 Akio Toyoda Details TMC’s Approach to Quality at Press Conference

At a recent news conference in Tokyo, TMC President Akio Toyoda spoke about:


  •         Japan-market recall progress
  •         Electronic throttle control technology safety
  •         Measures for improving product quality

To read the press release, click
on
http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/tmc-details-approach-to-quality-153951.aspx. Prepared remarks by Toyoda and Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki can be found under “Recent News” at www.toyotanewsroom.com.

PLEASE POST YOUR OPINIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO WHAT TOYOTA SHOULD BE DOING IN THE COMMENT BOX BELOW:

Tags: Pledge to Customers, Toyota, Toyota Motor Sales, Your Opinion

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

Be proactive before the media blows it out of proportion, as they did.
I haven't read this press release yet but I have to say... Already I don't like the bullet points. Toyota needs to start addressing the things that matter to people and shape their public comments in a way that resonates with what people are thinking and feeling. This sound like corporate babble. More later...

Jimmy

www.RichDealersDaily.com
Hey Ralph,

Can you say "Fair weather friends?" I spent a number of very succesful years as the GM of three Toyota dealers in South Florida, I was personally invited by Jim Moran Sr. to party on the Gallant Lady (several generations of the beautiful ship), I spent the money from their Cash Bash Events at luxury resorts and I still look at the pictures from my trip to Switzerland; all on the back of Toyota, their wonderful products and S.E.T's fantastic support team.

I am not aware of any manufacturer that has NOT suffered some recalls but I am certainly now aware that Toyota has. Coincidence? I think not! Our new competitive positioning via our Government Motors vs. the Toyota hands that used to feed us -- remember, there were/are tens of thousands of Americans on that gravy train -- has raised the level of outrage aginst what is obviously an unfortunate lapse in quality control.

As far as what Toyota should do about it? Well, they have made a good start by recognizing their failures and outlining "generic" solutions to fix the discovered problems, however, the passion that many Toyota owners and dealers feel for the product is the real differentiatior that they should be promoting. The same outrage fealt by Toyota owners reacting to the inflammatory coverage by the press could/should be turned around by involving their customers in the solution.

Toyota should form a "Customer Quality Control Board" acting in cooperation with their own management team and factory workers and promote it along with the wave of the bad press to turn the tide. They should announce that they are forming a compensation fund to customers who suffered accidents from the safety related items and settle the cases out of court for whatever it takes -- just add the expense to their advertising budget and build it into their creative. They should start building in testimonials from satisfied customers -- as well as the ones that settled as part of the agreement if possible - to humanize their response to the problem and accentuate the solutions. They should have testimonials from the American sales people, dealers and factory workers who share in the shame and who are anxious to help moving forward.

Simply put, put a human face on the problem as well as the solution and take your lumps as publicly as the credit for recognizing, accepting and resolving the problems; past and pending since you can be assured that there will be more "discoveries" as the attorneys and Government Motors smell the blood in the water. I have always believed that a problem is simply an opportunity to present a solution and this is no exception!

Toyota should put their 97% of satisfied customers to work for them with social networking driven support communities to let their friends involve in the solution since the lame street media will likely only serve the message of their master; Government Motors!

After all, what are friends for!
Babble, Babble

Sounds like Toyota talking, people don't llike babble and can see right through it. I have never had the opportunity to ride the Toyota skirt tail. Lets get serious about customers and forget that the "cream" is only a small portion of the containter!!
Customers don't care about babble and Toyota should address the "opportunity" on the customer's level. Send Toyota Reps to the dealerships and not on paid vacations and interact with customers. Don't downplay the situation, there was a problem.

Not trying to step on anyone toes, just thinking like a customer.

Mark King
Internet Sales and Marketing Director
Don Moore Automtoive
Well Mark,

I am not sure if you were commenting on my comment or Toyotas' so I will address both. Of course I agree with your points about facing the music and involving Toyota customers directly in the solution - or at least I thought that I did - but perhaps I should add some more details to the solution to confirm that it is more than "babble?"

For example, Toyota dealers should pay back some of their profits over the years and open 24/7 with three shifts to repair all vehicles ASAP with a minimum of inconvenience to their customers. Home pick up, free rentals -- whatever it takes! Dealers should take it on themselves to offer a guranteed trade-back of impacted vehicles against updated newer models at a percentage of the original sales price -- above book value -- to provide relief to concerned customers and/or offer extended warranties to accomodate pending concerns.

Of course if this approach creates additional sales and service opportunities -- so be it! After all, what are friends for!

PS: I hope that you do not see that as more more babble but at this point -- and in this forum -- talk and opinion is all we can provide? Also, I should mention that I represent all makes and models at my agency - Ad Agency Online - and I have owned and operated many brands besides Toyota but my Toyota experiences have always been good ones and I believe that they are being unfairly singled out for self serving agendas that have little to do with their recalls or their product. Just a thought!
@Mark, I don't think it's respectful to reply to someone's post as babble babble. Specially someone with the experience of Phil. I as well worked for one of the largest Toyota dealers in the country Hudson Toyota in Jersey City for many years. I see this as a huge communications problem, not a quality problem. This is Toyota's biggest problem ever, so after the problem is fixed Toyota will bounce back.

All they have to do is what Phil said, put the large number of Toyota owners to work for them, and the image will come back.

I was at a gas station the other day, and saw a great looking vehicle that caught my eye, and I could not turn away. I kept looking for the emblem and it was a Hyundai? Hyundai is one of the big boys now, but does anyone remember that when appraising a Hyundai involved a special percent reduction per model? I know I do. They had serious serious issues and bounce back, and they never had the following and reputation that Toyota still has today.

I am not downplaying Toyota's recall, but other OEM's have had much worse and those models are still on the road. Does anyone remember the Mitsubishi Montero Limited that when turning corners at 35 miles per hour would flip, Mitsu's answer was to add weights to the frame, but till then many vehicles flipped and the vehicle still sold, and they are still on the road today, and Mitsubishi is still in business.

The commercials Toyota is running extending service hours and providing customer service personnel at dealerships is the correct step. They are actually going to make a ton of money in service repairs because of this. Once most recalls are repaired Toyota will get real aggressive and take back some of their market share. They already started offering 0% for 60 months of some models.

By the summer we will be talking about how Toyota bounced back and how they did it.
Hi Mark,

Although I understand you're "customer" take on the Toyota situation, I think Phil was trying to address the issue as presented; what should Toyota be doing? Phil's post was very illustrative of larger issues at hand for Toyota, and they aren't babble. They will all ultimately effect customer sentiment. I jumped in to the conversation because I am writing the March Edmunds.com Dealer Insight newsletter that will in part tackle the Toyota situation, and it may have far reaching implications for everyone that builds and sells cars.

To address your consumer concerns, you should know, potential consumers to this point have not expressed the vitriol you seem to have toward Toyota. Edmunds' consumer intent for Toyota, although hit hard, has actually held pretty well and rebounded quite a bit, at least till yesterday's Corolla steering issues came to light. It's actually a testament to how long Toyota has been held in such high regard by customers.

Now, notwithstanding the "what did you know and when did you know it" that is coming, it may change. But be sure, these models account for over 10% of US auto sales, so although current customers need to be made whole first, the implications to all who live by selling cars can be vast for years to come.

Best Regards,
Johnny G
http://www.edmunds.com/dealers
I help to market 4 franchises and feel like a member of the family of all 4 brands, Toyota being one of them.

It hurts to hear Mr. Lentz say "we haven't been living up to" the standard, since each of us knows how hard we work, and on a daily basis failure is never an option.

Also it is never an option to deceive the customer, since as Mark King so aptly pointed out, people can see right through it. So all the mud being slung at dealers is not serving any purpose.

The good thing is that Toyota is providing a central focal point on their website where we can direct customers to the source.

I have owned a few Toyotas; none of them ever had a problem, even the older ones that I bought used. My personal confidence in the product has not been shaken. I just keep it in perspective, remembering all the fine products from other manufacturers that had recalls and survived to go on to greater favor.

I do not recall any other companies going through this kind of PR mutilation, however. If anyone else can, it would be an interesting historical perspective.

Thanks for this post, Ralph.
@Clarence: I think the mistake being made for the product line isn't with loyal folks such as yourself. You understand the Big Picture, but if consumers really understood the BP we'd probably fire all of Congress! :) Sorry, not making light of your loyalty or of the problems, I just mean that folks such as yourself--and especially Joe Consumer--need to become the face of the response from Toyota. I lived in Asia for almost three years, a bit in Japan, and the culture there asserts quickly that Responsibility Goes Straight To The Top. And, so, a corporate executive answering, and apologizing, where necessary is the common approach to a Big Problem--though we do respond well to Responsibility At The Top here, as well, we are also much more aligned to the reputation we are aware of from our peers.

I believe this is the first large PR opportunity for Social Media in corporate USA. I'd hit YouTube and fb with everything I had showing an American face fixing the problem, and American consumers standing by the product. I hope they don't miss the boat.

Thanks, nice talking to you again, by the way,

Keith
@Keith, it's has been a while, and it's always great chatting with you and sharing idea's. I am not a Toyota loyalist, and I don't wear my I love Toyota shirt on vacation. LOL

I am a realist and see things the way they are, and are we saying that Toyota is now a poor quality automobile due to this major recall? Not taking away from the outcome or the fatal and tragic deaths. This was a poor communication issue, and you are correct, they should be useing the face of the loyal folks and social media. What the experts should and I know some that already are working with local Toyota dealers to help them with social media to fix the image, and gain the confidence.

Clarence
@Natalie - You are welcome... I have so many sources of bias on this issue, it is difficult for me to be objective. However, as a Toyota competitor I would be wearing my track shoes to the dealership and selling as much as I can, while I can, because when "Mr. T" comes out of this, he has more cash to go after market share than any other car company in the world.

As a Toyota supplier, I simply want to give them the best guidance and work diligently at helping them to recover, do the right thing, and then move on.
I'd suggest they take a proactive role via social media of fb and youtube and such, and help people understand exactly what this is--where the tempests in the teapots are, where the real issues are. And if I were Toyota, I 'd use the dealers to do it! Show real experiences. Show real people. Putting a face to the problem gives the important impression that a HUMAN is involved, cares, and will fix the problem.

I think of my own personal rule: I hold loyalty to people, not companies. In this instance, the "people" who can hold loyalty in the market are the dealerships, and they are the ones who can hold the brand loyalty. Toyota is just another global monolithic entity. "Joe Schmo Toyota Dealer" is Main Street USA.

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