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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia’s head of sales and marketing admits a “once-in-a-lifetime” overhaul of the brand’s culture is required to help Toyota and its dealers “lift our game”.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb (pictured below) said the company was “taking for nothing for granted” despite today announcing another industry-leading sales result for 2014 in which Toyota sold 203,501 new vehicles.

“While we are proud of what we have achieved, we know that true leadership means much more than having the best-selling vehicle in Australia or being the best-selling automotive brand in Australia for the last 12 years,” Cramb said.

“We are keenly aware that we are only as good as our next customer thinks we are.

“There are many small issues that annoy customers about their ownership experience, and we’re trying to address each and every one of those so the customer stays with Toyota for life.

“The changes we are implementing will be visible to customers when they buy or service their car, in fact, at every touch point of their ownership experience.”

toyota-corolla

Cramb said major mindset shifts needed to occur both at head office and within dealerships to ensure customers were treated better than they have been in the past.

“What we’ve also learnt is dealing with our sales people from time to time in different dealerships has not been completely satisfactory and sometimes our behaviour was causing some of that discontent in the dealership,” he said.

“So we’ve had to look internally and make some changes to our behaviour in the way we motivate dealers and the way we encourage dealers. A really simple one is … if you’re a customer and you’re buying a car at the end of the month, you may well be pushed to take delivery of a Toyota vehicle by the end of the month so that we can get that sale in.

“That’s not customer-friendly; that’s not thinking about it from a customer’s perspective. That customer should be able to take delivery when it suits them. It’s a really minor point, but it really annoys some people. We’re only thinking about the world from our perspective and not from our customers’.

“It’s tiny things like when they drop their car off for service, the way they’re treated, the way they’re greeted, when they’re a repeat customer and they’ve had many cars… Those kind of people deserve more respect than maybe they’ve got in the past.

“So we’ve got a role, our dealers have got a role, and we’ve all got to lift our game.”

toyota-top-sellers

Cramb said the recent introduction of the Toyota Service Advantage program addressed a “huge issue” for customers by simplifying the servicing process and lowering the price of scheduled services.

He also highlighted Toyota’s need to embrace the “digital world” and create new ways for the customer to interact with the brand in their lounge rooms and in the dealership.

“There’s a lot of investment that needs to take place between us and the dealers so that the retail and wholesale points are aligned.

“There’s lot of work going on in that respect so that it’s a seamless experience for the customer in purchase, service, finance, every aspect of owning and buying.”




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