|History > Limitless Dreams > Putting the Customer First (1953)|
|Putting the Customer First (1953)
In January 1953, Honda moved its Head Office and its Sales Department to 2-5 Maki-Machi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, the site of todays Honda Yaesu Building. That same January the company bought a 100,000 square-meter site at Yamato-machi, Saitama Prefecture, and started construction of the Yamato Plant (now the Wako Plant of the Saitama Factory). In April the Shirako Plant was completed and started full-scale production. The branch network was expanded as well, with offices in Nagoya, Shikoku, Osaka, and Kyushu.
Sales of the Dream and Cub got better and better.
The slogan 120% Quality first appeared in an article in the March 1953 issue of Honda Monthly. It was typical of Hondas style.
When human beings aim for 100% they will always miss by about 1%. If a customer buys one of our products that falls short by that 1%, it will mean that Honda has sold a product that is 100% defective. To eliminate the possibility of missing by 1%, we should aim for 120% quality. People who were in the company at that time would get their practical education from Mr. Honda in even more blunt terms.
The incredible thing about him was the way he put the customer first, explained Kiyoshi Kawashima. Because he always looked at things from the customers point of view, he actually became a customer himself. The slogan Aim for 120% was so effective because it showed how he saw himself as an angry customer who had suffered because of a 1% failure.
I was struck by the word giken (which means research and development) which I saw in a Honda recruitment ad, remembers Tamotsu Nakano, a former member of the Board of Directors. In January 1951, I joined the Design Department of the Tokyo Plant. But because I was an electrician there was nothing for me to do and when this was realized I was transferred to assembly. The little assembly line at the Tokyo Plant had only just started and I found myself surrounded by beginners. More experienced workers would come from Hamamatsu, give a few instructions and go back again. Because I was inexperienced I would forget things or fail to do up screws tightly enough. Whenever the Old Man appeared he would spot any mistakes - not mine but something the guy next to me had done. The Old Mand look at him as if he was going to bite him and come up saying Idiot! Fool! Clod! and then Where does your pay come from? From the company, Hed reply. Where does the company get its money from? From people who buy our products. So, your pay comes from the customers. But you turn out shoddy workdo you want to kill those customers?! When the Old Man talked like this I realized that his sense of humanity wasnt just a matter of words but came from the heart. Respect for human beings, now one of Hondas basic concepts, has its roots in the Old Mans idea of humanism. I never heard him say the exact words Respect human beings but all of us had plenty of opportunities to come face to face with his concern for others whenever he gave us a talking to. And he was always very careful who he chose to launch one of his thunderbolts against. He looks promising, and if I get angry with him it might do him some good. In fact he himself used to say A lot of people get angry because theyre nice deep down, but Im not like that. When I see something I dont like I get really nasty, because if theres anything wrong with our products, it could put lives in danger. I just cant tolerate people who dont take their work seriously. So the person hed got angry with would really feel the pressure and break out in a cold sweat. You got the message not to make another mistake. But the next day the Old Man would act as if nothing had happened and look as if hed completely forgotten getting angry. Afterwards we realized that his thunderbolts were meant to be educational.
Hideo Sugiura, former chairman of the Board, also remembers getting a severe ticking-off from Mr. Honda over a problem connected with the 120% quality drive. [The story is told on page 156 in another chapter, The NHP/NH Circle Begins.]
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