Talking about Toyota, what words flash in your mind first? Sticking accelerator pedals? Unstuck brakes?
Toyota’s worldwide recall whipped up a storm in the Auto world and bogged itself down in the crisis. Although it has taken measures to fix the problem and made efforts to gain back its reputation and customers, it can still not avoid sales decline. In February, Toyota announced it would stop selling eight of its best-selling vehicles, which would cost the company and its dealers a minimum of $54 million a day in lost sales revenue. As the world’s largest and most profitable automaker, which is famous for its reputation and reliability, can still be in an unpredicted recall crisis, it is quite necessary for the rest of the auto makers to think carefully and make preparation in advance.
First, it is necessary to establish and reinforce the early warning mechanism in the company. We should identify the potential crisis as early as possible by checking the mainstreaming media news, monitoring public opinions on social networks, and concerning about the industry dynamics and social policy change. In this way, we can sense the hint of the crisis and have enough time to be prepared ahead. It is also beneficial to our better control the development of the event, thus avoiding the wide spread of the negative messages. In this case, frequently checking the company’s home page and various social media websites is important. For example, the company can build its own page on Facebook or Twitter. They are useful tools for the company to effectively communicate with the customers and monitor the public attitudes. What’s more, inspecting the safety conditions of every component of the car thoroughly also matters. Others’ mistake should draw our attention to examine our own manners.
Second, it is very important to set up an early plan. Whether we can properly deal with the problem at the first time directly influence the success of handling the crisis. A crisis communication plan plays an important role in the first reaction to a crisis. It helps us quickly work out the communication strategy and take it into action. The company won’t rush off the feet if a preplan is made to predict the possible situations and provide guides to deal with the event. Even a great company can suddenly crash by a unexpected crisis, so making an early crisis communication plan is critical to the company.
Third, the ways to make first reactions and deal with the crisis are vital to the results. Whether the company can control the crisis, reduce the damage and restore its reputation depend on the crisis management. Though Toyota performed rather good crisis public relations, there are still some flaws. Toyota didn’t take seriously the consumer complaints and warranty information in the early time, thus leading to the two giant recall. Besides, they didn’t make quick reaction when the crisis broke. The delay in dealing with the problem also drags the solution of the problem. Therefore, we should attach importance to the crisis as soon as it shows the signs. And when it happens, we should respond at the first hour and speak to the public honestly and openly. We’d better take actual and efficient actions early to show our determination and sincerity.
What can other auto companies do at this time?
Toyota is the top automaker in the world, which won customers and market share from GM, Ford, Chrysler and other companies. However, due to the recall crisis, it saw its sales decline in February, while its major competitors saw sales increase by double-digits. Therefore, it might be a nice opportunity for the competitors to promote themselves and gain from the crisis.
Those automakers can seize the opportunity to promote their products and increase their market share by the fair and health competition. They can intensively convey their values and positive images to the public and win the new customers in this period. For Toyota’s safety problem, they can focus on their cars’ good quality and security, which will help build the positive image and gain the reputation.
Above all, the auto giant’s crisis is really a warning to the whole auto world.