Archive for April, 2012

Is a Lexus a higher quality car than a Honda?

April 19, 2012

Affordability is a key customer requirement that separates groups of customers. Both groups of customers of Honda and Lexus think they are buying a car that meets their requirements. Their long-term experience may prove otherwise because of failures to meet requirements. Such failures include the performance of the car, the running costs, the dealer’s customer service or the fact that their requirements change as customers.

Customers may not be thinking or saying quality at the time of making their buying decisions. They may experience quality but not call it that. Instead customers are trying to translate their understanding of their needs (and the needs of others who will use the car) into requirements. These requirements must be fulfilled by the cars they buy and the dealership that sells them.

Customers buying the Lexus will probably be more demanding of their dealership. Accordingly, they prepare to fulfill higher standards of discernment. But Honda owners probably would say they are no less discerning.

Affordability and availability are important customer requirements. If a customer perceives that the car does not or will not meet these and their other quality requirements they will go elsewhere.

Some customers find their car does not fulfill their requirements after they have made the purchase. This failure may be due to poor quality; that is the car not fulfilling its promises. It may be due to the salesperson not helping the customer to achieve the correct balance of needs. Quality salespersons work with the customer to balance their emotional and rational needs when helping them to understand their requirements for their car. Badly served customers may become loyal to another make of car.

Lexus and Honda are therefore careful to understand the needs of their customer groups. They do their best to design their products to fulfill those needs. Beyond cars, their products include the services inherent in selling cars carefully to exactly match the needs of buyers. They also ensure the after sales services continue to bring in the customers, their families and friends with similar needs. Sloppy sellers rely the ancient legal principle of ‘buyer beware’.

Quality is equally applicable to both groups of customers.

Many drivers cannot justify spending double on a Lexus so they buy Ford motor cars. Others will justify the expense and decide to spend the money on the car that best meets their deep psychological needs (perhaps to feel superior) and buy a Lexus. At Ford Quality is Job 1 while Lexus and their dealers pursue perfection. Both companies engage everyone in managing quality as does Honda.

All three companies invest in their systems, processes and products to make sure their quality cars are affordable and available to their customer groups.