Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is withholding incentive awards and contest prizes from Toyota dealerships that repeatedly try to influence how consumers fill out customer satisfaction surveys.
The company is denying similar awards to dealerships in the bottom 10 percent of Toyota's Customer Satisfaction Index scores for sales or service, in their region or nationally.
The policies are part of a tough new approach to improve customer service at Toyota dealerships. The automaker scored well below the industry average in a J.D. Power and Associates report in July that rated each franchise on customer satisfaction with dealership service.
"We'll monitor dealers to ensure they're not coaching the survey," says Toyota spokeswoman Nancy Hubbell. "If they are, then we'll counsel them to stop."
Many dealerships of all brands use scores on customer satisfaction surveys to help set the pay of sales and service employees.
Toyota dealerships with superior customer satisfaction scores are eligible for incentives such as company-paid employee trips. Those programs vary by region.
Customers who buy new Toyota vehicles and bring them to Toyota dealerships for warranty service receive the surveys from the automaker. Toyota seeks to discourage dealerships from trying to affect in advance how customers complete them.