A lot of people think Toyota has a quality problem these days. But I would say their biggest problem is a customer service one.
Let’s look at the basics. Customer service is all about giving customers the right experience. Do this and they’ll remain loyal. Fail at this and they’ll leave you faster than you can say “cancel my order”.
The core issue Toyota is facing is about quality. An accelerator that sticks in too many of your cars is a bad thing. It’s even worse when people get injured because of it. The good news is only a tiny percentage of Toyota cars are likely to have this problem.
The bad news is nobody knows which cars.
So their bigger problem is one of perception.
If you own one of the affected models, your perception about your car could easily change. If you’re not sure your car is safe to drive, your “Toyota experience” changes dramatically. Even if your car never has the sticky accelerator problem, if you are afraid to drive it, then you have a problem. So does Toyota.
In the media I’ve heard comments from Toyota owners that tell me there is plenty of fear and frustration about their cars.
“I feel like I’m stuck.”
“Not sure if I should drive my car.”
“I can’t get any answers about it.”
These statements show people who are having a lousy experience as car owners. This experience will affect their loyalty. The longer a customer is left to feel this way, the less likely they are to be loyal.
To fix this problem, Toyota needs to communicate better.
They need to be more open about the problem. They need to be more detailed and specific about their plans to fix it. Their entire communication strategy should have been focused on assuring their customers. Their customers needed to hear this message:
“We will make sure your car is safe to drive.”
This would have given their customers a better experience. It would have allayed much of their fear uncertainty and doubt. It would have shown them Toyota was looking out for their safety. That’s what builds loyalty. That’s what keeps customers coming back.
What message does your company send? Is it the message your customers want to hear?