How would feel if you dropped off your favorite suit at the cleaner's to have a spot removed, and when you picked it up the spot was still there?
Or picture this: You're on a family road trip and the kids need to use the bathroom. You get off the highway and see two service stations. One has broken windows and old tires stacked around it. The other looks weathered but clean and well-kept. Which service station would you choose?
These scenarios are outlined in Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s new service and parts operations guide, 'Critical Customer Contacts.' The 36-page booklet uses everyday experiences to help dealership service employees hone customer-handling skills by putting them in the position of being a consumer.
Lou Pugliese, customer services consulting program manager at Toyota, said the instances in the book are nonautomotive because employees become so used to their own routines and surroundings, they have a hard time seeing the dealership's shortcomings.
But when those same employees examine their own experiences from the perspective of, say, a patient in a doctor's office or someone trying to conduct business with a utility company over the telephone, they are better able to relate to how customers feel when they walk into or call a dealership.
It's all part of Toyota's New Era Business Strategy aimed at boosting customer retention.
'In a car dealership we tend to think of ourselves as a car dealership rather than a retail experience,' Pugliese said.
The booklet focuses on seven key areas: facility overview; customer contacts; new-vehicle handling, including receipt, predelivery service and delivery; service and parts relationship building; overall service experience; overall parts experience; and follow-up.
Toyota has created decals to be placed in each vehicle after it has gone through predelivery service. The decal promises: 'I have personally inspected your new Toyota, and I give you my pledge that it meets our highest possible quality standards.' The decals are signed by the technician who prepped the vehicle and placed on its windshield.