A problem that is handled well can increase a customer’s loyalty. This is something Toyota should bear in mind as it deals with the potentially devastating recall of more than 8m cars for safety defects. Just look at last week’s healthy results from Mattel, which has recovered admirably from the “toxic toy” scandal of 2007 that forced it to pulp more than 20m products that were covered in lead paint or had bits falling off them.
What Mattel understood, from the get-go, was the need to take full responsibility and to apologise and explain, and then to keep on apologising and explaining…until consumers were sick of hearing it. Unfortunately, this goes against a deeply-held corporate instinct – applicable globally but possibly even more pronounced in Japan – to downplay problems, shift responsibility and reveal only what is absolutely necessary. Just remember how Ford and Firestone blamed each other for the exploding tires on the Ford Explorer a decade ago, a scandal that ultimately cost Ford’s then-CEO Jac Nasser his job. Read more