What We Can Learn from Toyota

I feel like a broken record.  I continuously preach about the importance of listening to the voice of our customers.  Despite the ever increasing emphasis on this subject, we still see examples almost daily on companies that have failed to do so and are paying for it miserably.  Enter the following news story.  

Unless you have lived in a bubble for the past several months, you have likely heard something of the colossal failure by Toyota to follow through on a recall regarding the brake safety of their vehicles.  You can point to numerous possible reasons why Toyota tried to bottle up this problem, such as culture, corporate pride, greed, etc., but as the article points out, Toyota simply ignored the voice of their customers.  As a result, they have created a situation for themselves that may take them a decade to fully recover from, if ever!

While the scale of Toyota's problems are massive, we see examples of this failure all the time in the business world, whether it impacts 50 or 50,000,000 customers.  The bottom line is that a failure to listen to the feedback that your customers provide to you on a daily basis will destroy revenue, reputation, and ultimately, your company.  Don't be the next Toyota, figure out how your company can listen to your customers and in which ways you can act on what you learn.  As a positive side effect, you will position yourselves to deliver products your customers want, thereby fueling growth and customer loyalty.