Toyota Just Doesn’t Get It- Poor Design = Poor Experience

I like to think of myself as having patience, though it has been said that I don’t always suffer fools well. I was having a happy retail experience, well at least as happy as one can have when you leave $1200 with the dealer. I did need new front brakes, so all in all I was quite happy and content, when the service advisor choose to make me even happier. “Here” he said as he handed me a post card, “register on this site and you could win a thousand dollars”. I joke that would only leave me $200 in the hole and he laughed as well.

Back at the office I went to the ‘’ web site and attempted to register. I input my VIN # and all other requested information and hot enter. The first try is returned an incorrect postal code. I had added a space where none was required/accepted. It would have been nice if they told me this, but no biggie, I corrected and continued. Still got the ‘correct your postal code’ message two more times, before the website displayed the ‘please phone our call centre’ message. While I was getting frustrated, I thought a $1,000 is still a $1,000, so I dialled the phone.

After negotiating the auto attendant menu and holding for 35 seconds I was connected to an agent. After explaining my challenges on the site, she explained that I may have been entering the wrong address and it had to match my home address. I thought of my retweet yesterday of Seth Godin’s post regarding frustration with poorly designed websites – HERE. If the site had mentioned that the address had to match my home address and not the one registered with the dealer, I could have navigated it. The agent then told me that if I had moved since I bought the vehicle, then my home address wouldn’t have worked either and it had to be my home address when I bought the vehicle.

Now I know why Toyota is promoting this web site and giving away thousands of $$. They want to ensure that their database is accurate and current. Who knows Toyota may have a recall (sorry a low blow, but I couldn’t resist). They also understand the concept of relationship management and want to be able to connect with me through as many touch-points as possible.

Of course by the end of the 4 minute call with my address corrected and verified by the agent, I said good-bye and attempted to login to the site. Once again an incorrect postal code message and after I verified that what I was entering was what the agent had said it should be i was once again asked to call the Toyota call centre.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the generosity and goodwill of the dealer by offering me a chance to win $1,000 had evaporated. I was out 30 minutes of my time, had seen my satisfaction with Toyota fall from a reasonable 8 out of 10 when first handed the card by the dealer to now a 2 out of 10 now. I wondered to myself was the company (Toyota) just dim when they created a site to register, reward and recognise customers or was their intention to demonstrate how to tick off customers who were relatively happy before receiving such a gift?

I suspect that their intentions were and are honourable. I suspect that no one paid attention to the website or web design. A few well placed instructions could have eliminated my call and frustration.
At the end of this process, my opinion of Toyota has taken a beating (and I now own my third consecutive Toyota vehicle), my respect for them as an organization has diminished (how many blindfolded monkeys does it take to make a website) and to make matters worse, it cost me time, but also cost Toyota money; 6 failed web interactions, one 4 minute call and the downstream damage done by one unhappy customer tweeting to the world.

I suspect that a better effort in building the website would have cost a whole lot less. This is the case with so many organizations that fail to extend their customer experience vision to all touch-points or fail to align all contact points to the vision.

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