Toyota and the quest for brand loyalty after a repair
Certain brands have very loyal followings, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Toyota come to mind. Toyota and Subaru are sold as long-lasting, trouble-free vehicles, and the people who buy them tend to keep them in service for many years. Because of their longer than average length of ownership, statistically, these vehicles may also see some collision repair because the average driver needs collision repair once every seven years. Perhaps that describes you right now.
Brands like Toyota and Subaru have fought hard to build their loyalists and are very much in tune with what keeps an owner in their vehicles, purchase after purchase, without ever switching brands. It’s safe to say that these manufacturers have the recipe for brand loyalty dialed in. It was puzzling to Toyota when a customer decided on a different brand after trading in, and they wanted to learn why. So, Toyota conducted an independent study and was surprised at the outcome.
According to Toyota national manager of service and collision operations George Irving Jr., “believe it or not,” the strongest driver of brand loyalty is a collision repair order, bet you didn’t know that.”
This came as a major surprise when the results came in, according to Irving.
The impact on brand loyalty from a collision repair “far exceeded” a mechanical warranty issue, which also had a positive result on brand loyalty, he said. Unlike a warranty repair for a manufacturing defect, a collision repair warranty repair order “doesn’t work” for brand loyalty, he said. In other words, customers are more forgiving of a factory defect warranty than they are for a bad collision repair warranty issue.
So what is a collision repair warranty issue?
On the day you pick up your car form the body shop, the work is fresh, the paint is fresh, and everything seems in order. But with bad collision repair, issues start to show up almost immediately. One day you are looking at your car as the sun is setting, and you notice the color doesn’t match the way it should. Or perhaps the steering feels off, or the door doesn’t shut right. Maybe you start to find water in the trunk or worse, and the paint starts bubbling.
What you probably didn’t realize when you picked up your car is that you are the victim of a “cut corners” collision repair.
A collision is about the worst thing that can happen to a driver, with the most potential for disaster (including death) to people and their cars. Even if you not injured, chances are you are badly shaken up. In order to feel confident that your car is as safe and long-lasting as it was before the accident, the quality of service you receive from the body shop, and the quality of workmanship in the repair are paramount to your sense of brand quality. In other words, if you have a bad experience with the repair, you will most likely blame it on the manufacturer for building a car that “turned out to be nothing but problems.” The research about the importance of the collision process gave the OEM a “real vision” into what it should do, Irving said.
Ford and Chrysler found the same to be true of their brands when they conducted similar research a few years ago. The new research from Toyota confirms the link between repair quality and brand loyalty.
Why This Matters To You, The Toyota Owner
Irving said, “everything we do” at Toyota surrounds brand loyalty. Handling a collision incident properly, producing quality and safe repairs, and satisfying the customer should lead to customer satisfaction and then brand loyalty, he said.
Toyota has now made changes to its Toyota OEM Collision Repair program and will no longer chase satisfaction scores and will instead focus on the “customer experience.”
Toyota realized they need to expand relationships with Toyota OEM certified shops and get more cars to Toyota OEM certified auto body shops.
While Toyota has “great communication” with insurance companies, in the future, your Toyota vehicle will help direct the actual collision process,” according to Irving.
In the short term, this may increase repair costs, but go-backs or ‘transactions’ would fall. Toyota was working to bring out “value-line parts” when important and had been in talks with Toyota headquarters in Japan on lowering parts prices. However, at the end of the day, the big idea is to fix a vehicle correctly and get it back on the road.
Repair Decisions That Affect You Financially
As a Toyota owner in need of collision repair, you have a choice to make in who fixes your car. You may think that the insurance company controls this decision, but they do not. Toyota has an OEM certification program, but it also makes its repair procedures available to body shop owners and technicians. The problem is, not all shops care about that. You can either guess how to properly perform a repair procedure, or you can look it up from Toyota. Make sure that the shop you chose always pulls up and follows the Toyota certified repair procedure for your vehicle.
If your car is under warranty, The use of non-approved procedures or aftermarket parts could void your warranty. A poor repair job could not only affect your personal safety, and it could kill any resale value in the car.