After a massive global recall, the Japanese car giant ‘Toyota’ is yet again feeling the heat with the car owners demanding for full refund of their cars. Adding to the already grief ridden recall saga, Toyota invited loads of criticisms followed by legal battles ever since the revelations of their car’s tendency to accelerate out of control. The technical glitch seems too hot to handle for Toyota, and now the customers are out of control.
Thankfully, the recent recall by both Honda and Toyota has let the consumer’s to lose their confidence for Japanese vehicles. Has this change in consumer preference exposed the grey area for Toyota or other Japanese car makers? Blessing in disguise, the American car makers, ‘GM Motors’ and ‘Ford’ are finally ready to capitalize on their once undisputed Japanese competitors.
Lately the Attorneys Toyota Actions Consortium (ATAC) added rackerteering claims on Toyota for its number of lawsuits. Tim Howard,who is coordinating the ATAC even said that :
“It’s become increasingly apparent that Toyota profits were not built on quality products, but on a willful pattern of deception, fraud and racketeering.”
Undoubtedly all these development has tormented the reputation of Toyota globally. The growing list of enraged customers proves how PR was never considered at the first place followed by the absence of a strategic reputation management. Setting an examples how things can slip off your hands, if not dealt the way it has to be. Toyota has lost its reputation and number one position for being the most favorable customer loyal car maker in US. But its only matter of time before we know how grave the scar is for Toyota and other Japanese car companies.
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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 For.com 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.