Thursday 21 June 2007

Business Principles: How not to handle a mistake!?!

It is very important for our clients to know where we stand if we make a mistake. We must take responsibility for it. We must make every effort to make it right. They need to know that.

In the long run, it builds trust between us and our clients.

Yes, we may loose a couple. But, if the mistake we made costs them, do you blame them for leaving? No. Hopefully we are given another chance though.

For example, Toyota's newly released Tundra full sized trucks have had a cam failure problem on what looks like early production run versions of the vehicle with a certain cam supplier's product in the engine. The number of cam failures have been relatively minor compared to the volume of trucks produced, but Toyota has implemented a replace the whole thing for free policy.

Not just fix it, replace it.

An article on the subject: autoblog: Toyota expresses regret for Tundra camshaft failures on internet forums.

Ford on the other hand, has a different stance on a cam failure issue that affects the Ford Taurus SHO V8 engine co-produced with Yamaha. Around 20,000 of these hand built in Atlanta vehicles were sold across the 1996-99 life of the car. The 1997 year was the largest run of the vehicle.

Some would say that the number of cars produced warrants a "no response" attitude. Some would say that it isn't worth Ford's time to recognize and take responsibility for the issue.

The number of known affected vehicles is approaching 5% (1,000) of the entire product run.

This is not a statistical anomaly as the Tundra's failures will be over the entire production run of the Tundra.

Wikipedia: Ford Yamaha V8 engine. Cam Failure Links.

Ford took the same stand with the vehicle fires due to a faulty seal in the break booster, and with the ~1997-2000 F-150 door latch failures.

As a result, owners of the affected vehicles have had to initiate class action lawsuits to get any recompense or recognition for their problems.

So I ask you:
  • Which company took the best approach with their clients? Ford or Toyota?
  • Which company will build long standing relationships with their clients? Ford or Toyota?
  • Which company took responsibility for the quality of their products? Ford or Toyota?
There are many of these types of questions that we can ask about the above similar situation between Ford and Toyota and how either company handled problems with their respective products.

Those questions in turn need to be asked towards our own companies and our own attitudes with regards to the products and services we provide our clients.

For whose best interest do we operate our business? That is a critical question, and the answer to it colours everything we say and do as representatives our company and the products and services provided by it.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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