Toyota misses the whole “customer service” thing


A few days ago, I posted about an experience my wife had with Toyota service, and the subsequent misfire with their automated telephone survey process. Yesterday, she got a call from them – from a real live person, no less – to get more details about her experience. Things were starting to look up.  Briefly.

Unfortunately, instead of using basic service recovery skills – listening to her concern, echoing it, sympathizing with her experience, thanking her for input, etc. – the person who called focused on trying to justify why she was ignored, and explain why her discomfort was more her problem than theirs.  Bottom line, rather than make things better, he made things worse. He clearly didn’t understand that the whole point of the ‘calling the customer’ process was to send the message that ‘we care,’ and ‘we’re listening.’

It’s a classic study of how a potentially good process can backfire when executed poorly. In theory, Toyota had it right: Ask customers for feedback, then demonstrate you’re listening by responding to customers who have a substandard experience. This is a great beginning to the customer service recovery process.
In Toyota’s case, however, they’ve chosen a counterproductive automated feedback mechanism, followed by a telephone call from someone who misses the point as to why he is calling.  The result is that they are actually making things worse. Sadly, until they can get it right, they’re better off not doing it at all.

Leave a Reply