Toyota Problems Deepen, Prius Recall Worldwide – A Reputation Management View

Toyota, known the world over for reliability, safety and quality is at its worst times, the problems don’t seem to die down and now the Prius Hybrid cars are being recalled for brake problems. The crisis is set to deepen further if cars are recalled in the US and Japan tomorrow.

From being the gold standard in management, the Toyota company is now facing the biggest reputation problem ever in its history.  The stock values fell and soon we had the Toyota Chief and President Akio Toyoda making a statement.

“The recalls are affecting several models in several regions and have caused anxiety among customers who are wondering if their cars are OK. For that we are very sorry”,  Toyoda also said the cars are safe, “We always put the customer first.”

The apology made by Toyoda hit the right chord and even the fickle stock value improved and in reputation management terms this was THE way to go ahead. However, as the worldwide recall looms large, the innuendos of mis-management in choosing their suppliers and even rumours of US politics making a play in this crisis with the current protectionist mood against foreign firms in the US, are all over the media.

Toyota insists the Prius braking problems and the recall has nothing to do with safety but for the motor giant – the largest car seller in the world these are dark times indeed!

Here at Reputation Management we have these Business Reputation Management suggestions:

  • Toyota needs to bring out details on why the brake problems are not safety related.
  • Toyota needs to put out more information on how the recalls are being handled with  step-by-step instructions to their customers.
  • The company also needs to put out customer testimonials on how the recall was handled smoothly on a case by case basis and encourage their happy customers to make Tweets and posts on FaceBook and blogs.
  • Toyota needs to educate customers to identify the right brake problem and assure people all queries will be handled well.

Coming clean about things will help snuff out further rumours and nothing like voice of people in social networking sites to get positive word out. If things work out, the people’s car maker may turn things around, but these are trying times at Toyota and for now its “Toyota problems” and safety rumours that’s all over the media.