Toyota Experience – Open Letter to Toyota’s President


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Let me start by stating the obvious. I can’t imagine what you are going through right now and I do not envy your position. With the assistance of your PR team you launched a new ad campaign titled “Our Commitment to Our Customers” . This well crafted text (I am sure fully approved by legal) articulate everything you will be doing moving forward to correct the wrong and prevent it from happening again. Your ad campaign, however is making a serious mistake. All your customers acquired Toyota cars because they assumed that all that you were ALREADY committed to customers, reliability and safety. Your ads failed in the most critical area, explaining what happened!
One cannot attempt to re-establish trust based on the same exact promise that was broken. That is exactly what your ads attempt to do. Without full disclosure of what went wrong, customers will not believe this newly discovered commitment to customers. The truth might not be pretty but it is better than the hiding. Sure, legal claim that you can’t do it due to potential liability. Guess what the liability is already there. Second, your ultimate commitment is to the customer who purchased your cars. Legal advice is important but it cannot replace your commitment to customers.
Additionally, yesterday a colleague of mine contacted your customer service about another rumored issue with his Corolla car. The response was “we have not heard anything about it and therefore the issue is non existent” Even if this is true, the way it was delivered was a recipe for destroying, not building trust. At time of betrayal, which is what your customers feel right now, you need to deliver the right message with the right emotions (again recognizing the sense of betrayal is part of the assurance) it does not seem that the customer service rep was ready to deliver on such emotional plea.
Based on the experience of other companies, your journey to recovery will not be easy or short. But you cannot take the first step on this journey before fully recognizing the past that got you to where you are now. Additionally, you must recognize the emotional state of your customers and the sense of betrayal they all feel. Craft a message that recognize them and not just deliver to them an annual report style checklist of commitment to the future. Its time to deliver on your original commitment to customer before trust will be re-established. Your new ads are falling short of that commitment.
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Lior Arussy
One of the world’s authorities on customer experience, customer centricity, and transformation, Lior Arussy delivers results. His strategic framework converts organizations from product- to customer-centricity. It is drawn from his work with some of the world’s leading brands: Mercedes-Benz, Royal Caribbean, Delta Air Lines, MasterCard, Novo Nordisk, Walmart and more.Arussy is also the author of seven books, including Next Is Now (May 2018)


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