released on March 2010
With the establishment of new Customer First training centers around the world in July 2010, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is taking definitive steps towards improving the way its global associates relate with the people who purchase and drive Toyota vehicles. While these centers are an innovative addition to TMC, the philosophy behind them has been a driving force within Toyota since the company's early days.
In October 1936, with the addition of the Model AA passenger car to Toyota's production line, the company initiated a program to visit customers in cooperation with domestic dealers in each region of Japan. The announcement of the start of the service in Toyota's internal newsletter said, "Increasing benefits for customers, dealers and manufacturers is the desire that the three parties have in common." With this new program, the root of Toyota's "Customer First" philosophy was born. To this day, putting the customers' needs ahead of everything else has always helped the company manufacture quality products and provide good service.
Another clear declaration of the "Customer First" policy came in May 1946, when Toyota invited representatives of dealerships across the nation to the Koromo plant (the present head factory). It was in his speech, "A Concept of Sales Policy and Structure," that Shotaro Kamiya, the first President of Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd., recognized the progress of the United States automotive industry by stating, "their sales method adopts an organization which directly connects customers and manufacturers, which makes it possible to reflect the general customers' experience with cars."
Kamiya called for an end to Japan's wartime distribution system, which was preventing the voice of the customers from being heard. He concluded, "Progress and development of vehicles are impossible unless vehicles are improved. Both sales methods and structure need to be formulated from this point of view. To put it in another way, based on the recognition that dealers cannot live without customers, and manufacturers cannot live without dealers, we are thinking of setting up dealerships which directly link customers and Toyota."
Realizing that dealers and distributors strengthen the bond between the customer and manufacturer, Kamiya made a pledge summarizing the spirit of Toyota today: "The priority in receiving benefits from automobile sales should be in the order of the customer, then the car dealer and, lastly, the manufacturer. This attitude is the best approach in winning the trust of customers and dealers and ultimately brings growth to the manufacturer."
Customer trust can only be built upon a dependable, well-made product, and Toyota understands that cultivating superior human resources is essential to ensuring reliable quality. Just as TMC has established Global Production Center training facilities around the world to transfer manufacturing skills and expertise to its associates, the Customer First training centers will better equip Toyota associates with the knowledge and abilities to steer the company's quality-improvement program in the years and decades ahead.
A diorama in the Toyota Kuragaike Commemorative Hall Exhibit Room recreates the April 1936 story of when Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda (right) rushed out to help the driver of a G1 truck, which had broken down. Toyoda and staff of the local dealership made repairs to the vehicle, displaying their commitment to the customer.
An exhibition was held in Tokyo to commemorate addition of the Model AA passenger car to Toyota's production line, September 1936. The following month the company initiated a program to call upon customers at their homes.
Shotaro Kamiya, the first President of Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd., was the first Toyota executive to publicly declare that the primary focus of the car manufacturer must always be the customer.
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