In the past several years I have purchased several Toyota vehicles, each time from the same dealership. I have serviced my vehicles as prescribed at this dealership. Over the last several years, my service experiences at this dealership have left me disillusioned with them and, by extension, with Toyota. I recently purchased a new vehicle and did not even consider either Toyota or that dealership. I also did not consider the Toyota Dealer’s sister dealership, which offers vehicles quite similar to the one I ended up purchasing.
One of the greatest challenges for all automotive OEMs, as well as for others that use a franchise model, is that customers’ brand loyalty is largely in the hands of franchisees, over which OEMs have limited control.
This weekend was the last straw, and it became very apparent to me what is holding them back. A number of indicator lights lit up in my 2011 Toyota Rav4 that my son drives. I called the dealership to try and bring my car in, at least to find out what was wrong with it. The workers could not offer an appointment until the next week. I asked if they could at least look at the codes and determine what might be wrong. They said that it wasn’t a quick thing and might take as long as three hours. Then was the kicker…the service agent said that they couldn’t read the codes, because Saturday was the day they took the system down for maintenance.
I told the agent that I would be taking my business elsewhere and did not plan to ever return to this dealership. The agent did not seem to be interested in keeping my business.
I prepared to take my car in to Midas. To be honest, I did not know what to expect, as I had never taken a vehicle there before.
We called on Saturday morning and they said we could come right over. Before going I tried to ascertain if my vehicle’s extended warranty still was in force. I couldn’t locate it on my purchase docs initially, so I called back the dealership. The same service person I had spoken to earlier said she could not answer my question as it was not available on her system. She transferred me to sales. They also could not tell me and transferred me to finance where I left a message. While I was waiting for a call back, I found the answer in my documents and I was 1,000 miles past the extended warranty.
After taking my vehicle to Midas. They looked at my codes and in 5 minutes told me what they thought it was. They went to work on my vehicle and within an hour, confirmed their diagnosis, a bad sensor, which he said wouldn’t have happened if the Toyota dealer had cleaned the exhaust system as they were supposed to as part of regular maintenance. I have always done all the maintenance they recommended, so this finding was especially annoying.
On the other hand, I was impressed with Midas’ service levels fairly quickly. I was wowed even further when the service advisor mentioned that they would be closing at 4PM that day, but that often they would stay late if it would allow a customer to be able to pick up their car the same day. This is the kind of experience that makes you want to come back again and again.
As a customer, I was extraordinarily disappointed in my Toyota dealer. As a professional, I am not surprised. Very few companies are truly careless when it comes to their CX. In fact, most companies, Toyota included, spend significant amounts of money and effort in order to provide a good experience to customers. Despite the dedication of resources, many companies fall short of their CX objectives.
In fact, our own research at MaritzCX shows that 72 percent of CX Professionals do not feel that their CX programs are as successful as they would like them to be. So why is that?
MaritzCX has created a framework called CXEvolution, which outlines and measures 14 CX competencies critical to the success of CX programs. Improvement along the CX maturity continuum has been shown to drive significantly improved financial outcomes and customer retention.
For many companies that are falling short of their goals, the root causes can be found in unrealized “immaturity” along some of these 14 competencies.
Specifically, among the 14 competencies in the CXEvolution framework, three are exposed in this set of experiences with Toyota. In these three aspects, Toyota, or at least this dealership, is particularly immature.
- Process Design – CX leaders take customer needs and take real-life cases into account in designing their processes, while laggards primarily consider just business efficiency.
- Organizational Structure – CX leaders tend to organize their strategies based on the customer journey – or at least based on a market or product lifecycle. Laggards typically have more siloed organizations.
- Customer Response – True leaders anticipate the problems and challenges that individual customers will encounter, and proactively address them, while laggards are inconsistent in the way they listen to and respond to customers.
Unfortunately, Toyota, at least in this dealership, is a laggard on all three of these competencies. This example shows that even when a company makes significant CX improvement investments, its success can be limited or even completely undermined by not having a balanced approach across all 14 CX competencies.
Furthermore, as in my case, an experience at a dealer, franchisee, or certified partner can sour customers on the entire brand.
Success across these 14 CX competencies cannot be achieved through the efforts of CX pros and their teams alone. They need leadership and the organization as a whole to be committed to the underlying strategies, processes, and activities that are crucial to the success of a CX management program. In an age when companies are counting on their customer experience management to create a core competitive differentiator, this is not an option – it is a necessity.