A true story of an unforgettable experience
Ever since President Akio Toyoda declared, “Thank you. May you have yet another ‘One and Only day,” we have been introducing true stories that happened between customers and dealership staff – stories suggested by customers - in this “one and only” series.
With actions rooted in a desire to help customers solve their problems, the Okinawa Toyota Chatan dealership staff leaves no nook or cranny unturned in search for a lost wedding ring.
It was supposed to be an unforgettable experience
It was meant to be the trip of a lifetime, an unforgettable experience.
Last year, a couple traveled to a tropical paradise, Okinawa, Japan, for a destination wedding and honeymoon. They had just exchanged their vows and rings and were preparing to sight-see and enjoy the rest of their time there when the unthinkable happened – one of the wedding bands they had just exchanged fell to the floor inside the vehicle they had rented. Search and search as they tried, they could not find the ring. The doors had been closed, so there had not been any chance that the ring had fallen outside. Distraught at not being able to find the ring, and being on a limited timeline for their honeymoon, the couple called the rental car company for help. The rental car company couldn’t do much by phone, so they suggested the couple go to a nearby Toyota dealership, the Okinawa Toyota Chatan, for help.
Anxiously waiting instead of sight-seeing
Meanwhile, at the dealership, Mr. Miyagi, an engineer by background but whose main role at the dealership was serving customers, had been the one to receive the frantic call from the couple after they had been referred by their rental car company. The call came in the afternoon, after the store’s regular operating hours; however, hearing the frustration and desperation in their voices, Miyagi decided to help.
Upon the arrival of the newlyweds, who had forgone their day of sight-seeing to try and find the lost ring before they needed to return their rental car and travel back home, Miyagi immediately took action.
A newlywed himself, he felt deep sympathy and empathy for the anxiety they felt, and, putting himself in their shoes, he made a personal commitment to do everything he could to find their lost ring.
So, first, he helped put the couple at ease, inviting them in to sit in the cool, air-conditioned dealership to wait, offering them Sanpincha (Jasmine tea). Then, he took time to understand where the ring had been lost, asking the couple to share where they had dropped it and where they thought that it was in the vehicle. Using his engineering skills to come up with a plan to search the vehicle, he left them to go and attempt to find the ring.
Hidden, but not lost
Returning to the lost wedding ring, Miyagi used his engineering skills to devise a search pattern for the car. While the couple was relaxing inside the dealership, outside Miyagi directed the team’s search of the car. After searching the initial area the couple had mentioned, the search expanded to look in nooks and crannies beyond the initial area.
After searching everywhere in the general foot space on the floor, the final attempt included removing the emergency brake’s plastic cover. There, in a small gap almost always overlooked, Miyagi found the lost ring. In a mere ten minutes of searching, the ring had been found. He was overjoyed and shouted “Yes!”, retrieving the precious wedding ring and running back to the couple to show them. As he handed the ring to them, the couple’s faces lit up with joy and they were overwhelmed with relief.
The couple expressed their heartfelt gratitude as Miyagi helped them get back on their sightseeing trip, saying “Please enjoy the rest of your trip!” It had been an unforgettable day, both for the newlyweds, who now had a unique story to tell, but also for Miyagi, who was thrilled to have been able to help, and even be able to get them back on the road to sightsee and be able to return their rental car on time!
Kindness transcends borders and languages
Miyagi’s constant thinking about and service to others is something he does naturally. At another time, when the dealership held an event for children where they could color Shisa, the traditional guardians from Okinawan mythology that are a cross between a lion and a dog, often found in pairs at entrance ways, rooftops or other locations needing protection, he had taken on a role like a teacher, playing with and enthusiastically caring for the children that had come to participate.
On yet another separate occasion, a town event where the local residents dance Eisa (a traditional Okinawa dance done as part of the summer Obon festival), Miyagi bumped into one of the dealerships customers, and, had even been treated a drink. As they enjoyed the event together with the other local community members, it also served to deepen the relationship beyond dealer-customer status.
Miyagi doesn’t rely solely on the spoken word to communicate with others.
Chatan is a world-famous tourist spot that attracts many customers who can’t speak Japanese.
He has found that body language can go a long way in helping to communicate things, so he took time to learn what types of body language are more universally understood.
These actions are rooted in a deep desire that shows how much Miyagi wants to understand and help others to solve their problems. That type of thinking becomes a kind of “kindness that is able to transcend borders and languages.”
Miyagi says that this episode, as well as other episodes, serve as examples of how working together with Toyota’s staff, things that customers once thought can’t be fixed might actually be fixable, and, how answering the needs of customers quickly can bring smiles to their faces and also to the staff members.
On the wall at the Okinawa Toyota Chatan dealership where he works is a poster that says: “Finding joy and gratitude from customers through teamwork.”
The couple of the lost wedding ring sent a note thanking Miyagi and Okinawa Toyota Chatan for their help in locating the lost ring:
“Seeing you searching for the lost ring so earnestly was very comforting to us. We can’t thank you enough for finding our ring.”
In this ongoing series of “one and only”, we will continue introducing stories that serve as examples of how thinking of other people’s feelings and doing everything for the customer can lead to another “One and Only Day” for all.