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CUSTOMER SATISFACTION-BASED BUSINESS PLAN PROVIDES KEY TO SUCCESS FOR TOYOTA AND ITS DEALERS

 TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Toyota's success making and selling cars in the U.S. stems from a corporate culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction at all levels of the company and its dealers, said a customer relations executive of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., here today.
 In an address today during the Best of America Conference & Expo, Robert W. Schrandt, vice president of customer relations for Toyota's national customer relations department, said that the company's commitment to customer satisfaction has helped Toyota increase its share of the U.S. market 3.6 percentage points in the last six years to around nine percent, despite the three-year recession.
 Toyota and its dealers accomplished this with a strong focus on customer satisfaction reinforced with annual performance goals for each of its customer satisfaction objectives, Schrandt said.
 "Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of our industry," Schrandt said. "If we take care of the customer, the customer will take care of us."
 Schrandt said that customer satisfaction has become key to Toyota's business plan and corporate culture, with top management providing leadership in listening to customers, measuring customer response and motivating Toyota and its dealers to continuously improve the quality of its service to customers.
 Two primary channels of communication keep Toyota in touch with its customers, Schrandt said.
 The first, a nationwide toll-free 800 number, receives over 300,000 calls per year. The number connects Toyota customers with the company's Customer Assistance Center to assist with any problems or concerns they have.
 The backbone of Toyota's communications with its customers is its second channel, a customer satisfaction survey mailing system receiving over 580,000 responses a year. The system tracks customer opinions about their experience of Toyota sales, service and vehicle quality, and expresses them in the form of indexes that can be tracked by dealership.
 Schrandt said that Toyota's customer satisfaction indexes are tracking at an all-time high since it began in 1986, with customer satisfaction gains mirroring sales penetration gains since then, despite a difficult market.
 Toyota's indexes show a full 20-point boost in overall customer satisfaction when dealers focus on follow-up. "Follow-up is often a matter of simply communicating with the customer," Schrandt said.
 Customer satisfaction criteria are included in dealer recognition and incentive programs. For example, Schrandt said, the prestigious "Toyota Touch President's Award" recognizes excellence in a dealer's business performance, high ratings in Toyota's customer satisfaction survey, and all Toyota dealer operating standards.
 In addition, he said, Toyota's internal benchmarking provides specific detail to address problems in all company operations as well as in Toyota's 1,400 dealers.
 "If we begin with 1,000 Toyota customers and satisfy them in their sales and service experiences, we can expect over 871 of them to return to the same dealers," Schrandt said. "If dissatisfied, only 22 intend to come back to buy another Toyota from the same dealer. These kinds of examples help everyone at Toyota and its dealers to understand the severe cost of dissatisfaction."
 Toyota did not achieve immediate results with its customer satisfaction efforts, Schrandt said, and many times its progress was very slow. However, the efforts have paid off and continue to yield improvements in the customer satisfaction scores. The key, he said, is to listen to the voice of the customer, determine which areas need improvement, and develop action plans that have the commitment of the whole company.
 "We can see that our customer satisfaction activities are a major reason for our sales success," he said. "We believe that maintaining a 'Customer First' philosophy is our insurance for the future."
 -0- 2/9/93
 /CONTACT: Xavier A. Dominicis of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A, Inc., 407-488-4427


CO: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. ST: Florida IN: AUT SU:

AW-JB -- FL003 -- 4779 02/09/93 15:26 EST
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Date:Feb 9, 1993
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