Friday, October 18, 2013

Customer experience is as important as Quality

image Toyota has become a synonym for quality, profitability and discipline.  You ask anyone for advice about purchasing car, they say go with Toyota. Because of its good reputation, it seems to have a good resale value, as well. However, today I heard an interesting story from a friend about a very bad experience dealing with Toyota salesman. He vowed he won’t go back to Toyota again.

Here is the story, one of my friends interested in buying the Toyota car called one of the Toyota dealers. The sales-person promised him a host of things, and after a great deal of negotiations for 3 hours the salesperson turns around and says, sorry he cannot give anything he promised. The reason he quotes it seems that he wants to help, but his manager does not want. The promises salesperson has made would cause a loss to the dealership  !!!  Very interesting reply isn’t it ?

My friend obviously thinks the Toyota sales guy wasted 3 hours of his time, and salesperson could have checked with his manager before promising anything.

Probably, this is a rare instance with a Toyota salesperson, but it has created a bad experience about the Toyota product. 

While I patiently listened to his story, one thing I realized was “A company could build a fascinating product applying a lean process or Agile method with a precision quality. However, In the end, if the end customer is not treated properly with respect and ethically, no matter how great the product is it won’t succeed.”

I visited Toyota website to see their promise to customers. You won’t believe this, their promise has everything except a customer satisfaction (see the screen shot below). 


I can build a innovative, quality and a safety product but if I treat my customers unethically or leave them dissatisfied will they come back ?

I can now see why Steve Jobs insisted on owning and running the Apple retail stores instead of giving a free hand to anybody and every body.  Probably, he knew that  building a customer loving product is not sufficient but leaving the end customer with a fascinating experience is important, as well.

For smaller items like Phones or clothes, the dealers and salesperson could impact consumer experience. However, if we are ordering a large goods like a TV or Refrigerator the shipping company or the courier service could influence the consumer behavior, as well.

If the courier boys do any damage during shipping and installing the items, “or”  they behave impolitely with the end customers, the impact will be more on the “actual brand” of the product rather than the shipping company.   

I have noticed that, while we share our experiences with our friends and families we always remember the product rather than the shipping company name. For example, we always say, while I ordered “XYZ” model TV, I had a terrible experience !!

After the above mentioned experience with the Toyota salesperson my friend is now saying, I had a terrible experience with Toyota !!

Do you have any such experiences where the salesperson left you with a bad feeling, and what was your response in terms of purchasing decision ?


Anonymous said...

Great Post, highlights a very very important concept!

Dave Gordon said...

This is a common experience in auto sales. In fact, it's a part of their training in many dealerships to over-promise and then take the fall for under-delivering. In the 1996 film "Fargo," William H. Macy plays just such a scene.

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for sharing the video. I watched the video and it is interesting to see they way the salespeople play around the psychology of the consumers.

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

@Rumadak, Thanks Ruma

Unknown said...

Good post Venkatesh