From the very start, Lexus strived to elevate their buying experience and customer service above their competitors, it was a defining characteristic, and a very strong reason for their success in the North American market. However, introducing the Lexus brand in their home country has so far been a bitter disappointment.
In order to wow their Japanese customers over, Japanese Lexus dealerships have brought old world techniques to their showrooms. The Wall Street Journal explains:
In early 2003, Toyota approached several etiquette schools that specialize in teaching the art of beautifying daily behavior, including the correct way to bow, hold chopsticks and sit on a tatami mat floor. The company asked the schools to tweak their techniques so that they applied to selling cars.
The etiquette experts determined that a salesperson should stand about two arms’ lengths from customers when they are looking at a car and come in closer when closing a deal. They decided that a salesperson should bow more deeply to a customer who has purchased a car than a casual window shopper. When standing idly Lexus employees must place their left hand over their right with fingers together and thumbs interlocked, a posture originally designed for samurais to show that they were not about to draw their swords.
Not everyone cared for the lavish attention, though:
Hiroshi Mase, 58, says he was initially impressed by the service he received during a recent visit to a dealership in Yokohama. The technology-company executive loved being served tea and cake as if he were a celebrity.
But he says it became overbearing when he went to pick up his new Lexus GS hybrid, and a sales associate gave him a bouquet and held a formal ceremony to hand over the key. A photo of Mr. Mase with his new car and the showroom’s staff was framed and presented to him.
“It was just too much,” says Mr. Mase.
Being the Japanese-obsessed gaijin, this sounds like heaven to me. Hai!
The author of this WSJ piece, Amy Chozick, also took a tour of the Lexus Tahara plant Factory, and filmed some pure manufacturing goodness: