When I read Edward Lapham's Aug. 2 commentary regarding Toyota's opportunity to improve customer satisfaction, two words came to mind: "He's right."
One principle of the Toyota way is respect for people. At Toyota Motor Sales, we strive to treat our dealers and their associates with respect, and we ask that our dealers do the same for customers. While the vast majority of our dealers embrace that philosophy and treat customers well, it's our goal to have all of our dealers make the same level of commitment.
To encourage our dealers to put a renewed effort on customer satisfaction we are initiating many programs, including a president's cabinet, whereby a select group of high-volume, high-customer satisfaction dealers are honored.
In addition to carrots, we're also using some sticks for our dealers. Those in the bottom 10 percent of their region and the bottom 10 percent of the nation in customer satisfaction are not eligible for dealer recognition programs.
Our dealers are doing their part, too. They're investing $1.2 billion in the next two years to buy more land and build or upgrade their facilities.
That investment in facilities is important, but so is investing in every customer. It costs no more to treat people with respect and communicate openly and effectively with them.
In the spirit of Toyota's continuous improvement, I encourage our dealers continually to improve the way they treat every customer. We have confidence that we build great cars for our customers. I call on every dealer to provide great service as well.