The frequency of Toyota’s vehicle recalls and the way they are handled are making their reputation spiral downward.
Toyota has had plenty of experience in dealing with crisis situations after having to recall over a million vehicles for fuel leaks in January 2011, but critics say that they have not handled the situation very well.
It can be truly damaging to a reputation whenever a company produces a defective product and has to not only admit that it was not of good quality but also ask for those products back to be fixed. Toyota has had to deal with this situation several times. They have added a section of their website dedicated to informing people of the current recalls and safety issues going on. This was a good idea so that Toyota owners can make sure their vehicle is not the one being recalled, but the fact that Toyota has had so many recalls that they needed to make this addition is why so many people have been criticizing the company lately.
Koji Endo, the auto analyst with Advanced Research Japan Co. in Tokyo, commented, “But there is that perception of here we go again, and that hurts Toyota’s image, especially in North America.”
Endo followed by saying that Toyota is most likely just trying to get ahead of the issues and recall them before they can become a bigger crisis. This recall, like many others, has been voluntary recalls, but just the word recall does not sit well with consumers and can alter their opinion of the company.
Gene Grabowski, chair of Levick Strategic Communications, said in an interview about the Toyota crisis that he considers this to be “the worst-handled auto recall in history.”
Grabowski said that Toyota dragged out all the facts rather than just giving the public all the information at once, “which is one of the key things you always talk about avoiding in crisis management.”
The slow release of all the information can make the consumers feel as if the company is not being completely honest with them. When dealing with a crisis like this, it is best to just give the public all the information they need at once and in a timely manner, then stay tuned to the consumers and help with any questions or concerns.