Section 3. Rapid Growth of the Japanese Market and Development of the Lexus

Item 2. Reaffirmation of the Customer First Philosophy

Strengthening the CR initiative

The rapid sales increase in the second half of the 1980s also caused problems on the sales front, such as shortages in the sales force and failure to deliver cars on time. Therefore, in implementing the Customer First philosophy, TMC continued to strengthen measures for addressing the various issues that came to light during the implementation process.

A customer-retention (CR) initiative was created to focus on customer interface. In 1985, the Nisshin Training Center developed a plan to restructure CR practices and began promoting the new plan at dealers. However, because the implementation status and employee awareness of the plan varied among dealers, TMC established the CR Promotion Department at the Nisshin Training Center in February 1988 and worked on increasing the level of CR activities throughout all Toyota-related entities. At the CR Promotion Department, staff members from TMC's service divisions and the C80 Promotion Department, as well as representatives from dealers, researched sales and service activities and ways to strengthen the support provided to dealers.

Meanwhile, because of the staffing difficulties dealers faced due to the economic boom, increasing hiring and training personnel became urgent issues. In February 1990, the title of dealer sales-floor employees was changed from "salesman" to "sales staff", and in May the "Step-up Program" for planned development of human resources was initiated. This program, which was a major shift from the traditional OJT-based training, divided the 10 years following the hiring of sales staff into three stages and established detailed development goals for each stage. Because these goals also included many elements designed to improve CS, they turned out to be very effective in this respect as well.

During the bubble economy, a trend began to emerge that found consumers thoroughly examining products on their own before purchasing them. To improve recognition of Toyota vehicles in response to this trend, TMC began to work on creating non-sale showrooms based on a new concept. The most notable was Amlux Tokyo, a large showroom opened in Ikebukuro, Tokyo in September 1990. The Amlux showroom became a hub for disseminating a wide variety of car-related information covering commercially available vehicles as well as motor sports, as well as a solidly established popular spot in Ikebukuro.

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