Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Toyota: a classic case of trust
The reaction to the announcement that a federal investigation into Toyota found no electronic flaws in its vehicles was revealing. Some commentators tried to pick holes in the 10 month long investigation aided by NASA engineers while others like the NYT editorial column shifted its focus off Toyota to a problem of federal oversight. (Without dealing with its past criticisms of the carmaker in any way) Even a news story in the NYT business section played down the findings saying in the third paragraph of the story: “The findings, reached after a 10 month investigation, neither implicated Toyota nor exonerated it any further than had been the case after the earlier investigation.” (Why write about the findings of the investigation on the front page of the business section then if it isn’t news?) Isn’t the lukewarm response to a long awaited federal investigation really just a barometer of trust in Toyota itself? At least to this observer it appears that Toyota still has a trust problem on its hands in the United States. To be sure, it is a much smaller trust problem than it had a year ago, but it is still a problem nonetheless. It’s an important reminder to any company that relationships of trust are valuable assets that take time to build. In Toyota’s case, rebuilding that trust means a relentless focus on quality and customer satisfaction plus lots of patience. Luckily for Toyota, that means playing to its strengths. After all, those are the same factors behind its global dominance.