Ethics and Credibility in Business Communications
In 2009, Toyota was accused of ignoring safety concerns in regards to faulty brakes and acceleration pedals which sent the car manufacturer into a public relations crisis. Toyota continued to blame the sticking pedals on faulty floor mats, not electrical error and was found to delay the recall process in order to save money. In order to avoid a massive recall, Toyota ignored Consumer complaints and recalled limited amounts of vehicles during different times in the year while “producing new vehicles with known safety flaws and advertising their vehicles to be the safest and highest quality vehicles on the road” (“Associated Press”, 2010).
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In 2010, Toyota was ordered to appear in Congress to face questions about their conduct in recalling of vehicles. During the hearing, Toyota “finally admitted to engaging in unethical behavior when it comes to investigating the safety of its vehicles” (Mack, 2010). This was the first admission from Toyota that they were wrong in the handling of the recall. During the hearing, Toyota’s US President and Chief Operating Officer stated to reporters that “safety was Toyota's top priority and we are committed to a great relationship with both Congress and our regulators." ("Toyota Executives Face Congressional Hearing", 2010).
The first step to re-building Consumer trust was to communicate to their wrongdoing by admitting their mistake and to apologize to the public which they did in the above statement. Another communication tactic used was to let the public know that the Consumer’s safety was their top priority. Letting the Consumer know they matter makes the Consumer feel valued.
Toyota admitting to their mistake, apologizing to the public and taking the steps to fix the problem shows that Toyota is really trying to win back Consumer trust and re-gain their credibility. They took the steps to fix the problem by notifying Consumers of the potential dangers and fixing the vehicles itself. “We can win back the customer’s confidence; we are doing a better job” ("Business Pundit", 2013), stated Toyota’s senior executive and global managing director. According to Forbes "Best Selling Car In The World" (2015), Toyota has the best-selling car in the world; from the sound of it, Toyota was able to win back customer confidence and their credibility.