5 Ingredients For Saving Toyota’s Brand

Toyota’s recall and the way that it has handled the problems so far has certainly eroded consumer trust in Toyota. Does this mean that the Toyota brand is dead? Not necessarily; it depends on how the company responds to this crisis going forward.

While there will definitely be a lot of negative sentiment in the short-term, Toyota can come out of this period with renewed strength in its brand if it delivers on the five elements of my C.A.R.E.S. model for service recovery: communication, accountability, responsiveness, empathy, and solution.

There will be twists and turns to Toyota’s brand perception over the next several weeks, but the long-term impact won’t be seen for at least several months. If Toyota can get passing marks for how it C.A.R.E.S. through this period, then it should be able to save its brand. But if it doesn’t, then…

The bottom line: During a crisis, intensify your focus on customers

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I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

7 thoughts on “5 Ingredients For Saving Toyota’s Brand”

  1. The hour has arrived to show if they have the mettle. I believe they do have it. I truly want them to succeed for many reasons but mostly for their workforce to remain working. That heads will roll, they should since they were negligent. It is the price one pays in business. This should prove to be a fascinating story.

  2. I really enjoyed this – thank you! I would add one more thing here though it would ruin your acronym! I think some sort of checkpoint or asking “How am I doing?” every few months can go a long way to reinforce that Toyota accepts responsibility and empathizes with the customer. This would do two things; help to repair current relationships and show future customers that Toyota is a brand one can trust. It’s difficult operationally and also expensive but I think it’s required at this point.


    Parissa Behnia

  3. Great take on this pressing issue for Toyota. I love the acronym and with permission, will repeat it in my blog. I think they may have already missed the “R” as I’ve heard reports that State Farm Insurance reported the problem as early at 2007! This situation amplifies the need for attention to the customer experience, before, during and most importantly – after the sale!

  4. Bruce, I couldn’t agree more, though in reality it’s not easy to implement. “CARES” must be internalized in the company culture and organization structure – and one cannot just wake up one day and decide to use CARES to keep their customers. Easy enough for Toyota to do it because of their established reputation for so many years. A lesser customer centric company would meet their demise the minute the news came out. While many companies are fully aware that winning a new customer is more expensive than keeping one, without mentioning any names, a few good brands seem to have forgotten that in today’s competitive environment a quality service should come as a standard (i.e. Star Bucks…err..there I said it!).

    My point, loyal customers are still very forgiving! From the outside, it may seem Toyota is burning money by doing a recall…the truth is, they’re really saying “we can’t thank you enough for believing in us, allow us to return a favor…please come again soon!”

  5. Hi everyone: Great comments on Toyota. I like Parissa’s checkpoint idea. Companies get so caught-up in what they’re doing (especially in a crisis situation like this for Toyota) that they forget to come up for air and find out if they’re on track with customers. Aldi also has a great point about culture, and I think it will help Toyota; especially with its keen focus on quality (which, from my vantage point, can only be truly measured by the overall customer experience).

  6. Its amazing tome that Toyota has accepted blame so openly and apologized. We just dont see that in our western culture. The genuine public apology, I believe, is key to getting Toyota’s customer experience and 200 year plan back on track. Great company.

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