Toyota’s Tough Times Create Credibility Crisis

toyota's-tough-times-create-credibility-crisisTimes are tough at Toyota.  What with the piling on of slippery floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals and faulty brakes, it’s no wonder they are experiencing serious damage to their brand.   And they’re taking a lot of criticism for the way they are handling the crisis.

The crisis managers at Toyota have got their work cut out for them.  It’s not going to be as simple as offering an apology for the anxiety and inconvenience created by the recent recalls.  New evidence reported in the New York Times indicates Toyota has a long and disturbing history of trying to cover up defects in quality and safety.

Now, it’s not just the latest double dip of recalls that Toyota has to overcome.  The problem appears far more systemic:  If it is true that Toyota has repeatedly been aware of safety issues and consciously waited up to eight years (while they were developing new replacement models) to recall the cars that were potentially putting Toyota fans and their children in the line of danger,  they have violated consumer trust.  Perhaps permanently.

For decades, Toyota has enjoyed the kind of customer loyalty that was the envy of every American corporation.  There are blogs, member organizations, Facebook pages and all kinds of online chatter from people who call themselves lifelong fans of the car manufacturer, many who have said they would never own anything other than a Toyota.  And why do they love this brand so much?  Quality and reliability. Ouch.

There is only one way Toyota is going to regain its credibility with its customers and the market: prompt response and complete transparency.  They’ve got to aggressively get the parts to the dealers and get these cars off the road as quickly as possible and with minimal inconvenience to the customer.  They’ve got to offer special service checks and insurances for a long period of time, 24/7 hotline phone numbers and online access for people to talk to service experts, daily progress reports to the media, bloggers and the international public and aggressive incentives for new buyers.  Most importantly, they should throw out the people who made the decisions not to issue recalls sooner when it came to choosing between their admiring public and corporate greed.

These are not “PR strategies.”  Or are they?  The only thing that is going to save Toyota is for its leaders to start thinking of their business from the customer’s perspective.  When they start to relate better to all of their publics (customers as well as shareholders), they can work through this credibility crisis and re-emerge, albeit it in five to ten years, as a dominant and trusted corporation.

We are, after all, a forgiving and forgetting public.

This entry was posted in Brand Management, Crisis Communications, Organizational Behavior and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Toyota’s Tough Times Create Credibility Crisis

  1. John Young says:

    Well said. Amazing the replacement part for this problem is about the size of a nickle. Makes one wonder if this could have been avoided. Reguarding executives evaluation I have been struck recently how so many use the “economy is bad” excuse for lost market share. Many good company’s, from booksellers to restaurant chains and grocery stores have missed clear areas of improvement and training opportunities and even customer relation opportunities by simply blaming everything on the economy’s sluggishness.

    When times are tough retail needs to be at it’s best. I fear we have a lot of wake up calls ahead of us as companys live in a world of short term quotas and results.

  2. Paula says:

    I agree. There’s more where this came from.

  3. It is amazing to me that so many companies don’t learn from history–what works and what doesn’t. J and J with the Tylenol recall remains the classic example of doing the right thing. Why is it so hard? Probably because it has financial considerations and today CEO’s are evaluated almost solely on their last quarter’s performance. Are we really, as a society, ready to (short term) trade stock price uptics for the price of human safety?

  4. Thanks for the great post! You have a new fan.

  5. Lucy Cook says:

    Profound critique, I enjoyed the digitalkamera demi bit

  6. Terrific piece of writing, I enjoyed the allied electronics careers bit

  7. Extremely exciting piece

  8. Joshua King says:

    Wonderful Read, I enjoyed the consolidated
    communications email login bit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>