Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear Toyota of America...

Dear Toyota of America:

I am a longstanding customer of both Toyota Sales and of the Service Department at my local dealer where I service my 1996 and 2007 Camrys. I am an appreciative customer and am pleased with the service with one almost paradoxical exception. As I do my final paperwork at the cashier I am always asked to fill in a survey and am politely told that any mark short of "excellent" (a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5) is considered "poor". I say this is paradoxical because, but for this request, I would be inclined to check "5" but the request itself brings my evaluation down one notch from excellent.

I understand your dilemma. Your excellent service department holds themselves to a very high standard (e.g. "excellent"). Anything short of that is in their eyes "poor" (although I would argue that the occasional "4" or even a "3", for example, indicating that the coffee in the waiting room was not hot or that the one donut left in the Dunkin' Donuts box was left over from yesterday (based on its staleness) or that despite a promise that my car would be ready at 3:00 PM it was not ready until 6:00 PM might actually be of assistance in your never ceasing efforts to enhance your already really fantastic performance. (By the way, kudos to your graphic designers for that really catchy "customer satisfaction" poster that you rightly and proudly display prominently in your service area indicating that 99% of your customers rate your service "excellent").

I understand that service businesses (especially those in the much beleaguered and maligned auto industry) are complicated and that much of what goes into running your business is simply beyond the ken of an average consumer such as myself but I know you appreciate all input from your customers especially those of us who are loyal and very satisfied with your excellent service.


Rough Fractals

PS. I thought you might appreciate this really funny thing that recently happened to me at your shop which I tell all my friends about and that they also think is really funny. At my most recent service I had my tires rotated. By total coincidence, I thought I might have a slow leak in one of my tires so I had put an "X" on the tire (rear passenger side) in chalk to remind me to ask about it. Of course I forgot until after my car was returned to me and I paid the bill (including the $49 charge for rotating the tires). In any event, I thought well since I am here, I might was well ask about the slow leak so when I got the car back I circled the car to find the tire with the "X" on it to see where it had been moved in the rotation and funnily enough it was still in the same rear passenger side position. I asked my service rep about this and he asked me to wait in the waiting room (and have a donut and cup of coffee) while he looked into it. He informed me that the technician had run out of time (it being close to 6:00 PM and the car had been promised for a 3:00 PM release) and so he did not get to rotate the tires and had (funnily enough) mistakenly checked the "done" box instead of the "not done" box. Isn't that a riot!!! I think they call that Murphy's Law. It's almost like what I for one think happened with this whole financial crisis thing. I mean everyone wants to blame the banks and cut back on Wall Street bonuses. I say if it wasn't for auto and banking innovation what shape would the American economy be in right now? Funny huh?

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