SAN DIEGO — Mossy Toyota's service department is tapping into new ways to help cut costs, improve appointment attendance and increase customer satisfaction.
Cell phones allow assistant service managers to text customers updates on their cars' repairs, seek permission to perform additional repairs or remind them of scheduled appointments.
Because the dealership books 5,000 service appointments monthly, punctuality helps the workflow, Dale Snow, fixed operations director of Mossy Toyota, told Edmunds.
After they began texting reminders rather than using traditional e-mailed messages, 80 percent of customers who received the texts showed up for those appointments, an increase of more than 15 percent, Snow said.
The constant communication has improved the service department's customer satisfaction, he noted.
And more car consumers are embracing text messages from their dealerships.
According to an October Morpace Omnibus online survey, 46 percent of respondents who text regularly are interested in communicating via text with a dealership, which is up 9 percent since 2011.
"We never want a customer to have to call into the dealership to check if their vehicle is ready or not," Snow said.
"It's extremely inconvenient for the customer to try to track down the associate in a busy service department to get that information, not to mention it's costly," he said.
The phone's camera feature has been invaluable as well, Snow said. Mossy Toyota's team snaps photos of additional repairs that are needed and texts them to car owners.
"If we discover an oil leak, we would take a photo of the oil pan, for instance, to show the customer where the source of the problem is," he said.
"A picture really does say a thousand words," if someone doesn't understand the mechanics of it all, he added.
Of course, a traditional phone call is frequently used as well, if a problem requires a complex explanation.
"By using this technology, we are showing customers that we respect their time," Snow said.
Edmunds says: While texting and driving is a no-no, this dealership uses texting to get people to drive into its service bay and scoot away more satisfied.