Britehouse's Automotive division and Toyota bring a first of its kind automotive mobile app to the market

Fully integrated dealer and OEM systems make possible a global benchmark in automotive customer experience.

Although most brands believe that convenience is the foundation of good customer experience, they rarely understand that the ability to deliver convenience is dependent on the brand's transparency and integrity.


As the new MyToyota mobile app proves, enabling a customer to manage his or her own experience of a brand is the ultimate form of convenience. Yet, the app is able to provide this only because Toyota SA's operational systems, including its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, are fully integrated. Customers are therefore able to interact with Toyota via the app as though they were part of the Toyota organisation.


Giving customers this depth of interaction with its systems enhances Toyota SA's transparency, thereby entrenching the company's integrity in the mind of the customer. It also reinforces for customers their importance to the company. And, because there is no other mobile app in the automotive industry that provides the same extensive, integrated customer experience, the app adds significant credibility to the company's slogan: ‘Lead the Way'.


As a very nice by-product, the app also streamlines operations for the company.


No surprise, then, that at its annual conference in 2014 the global Toyota organisation acknowledged the app as a benchmark in the automotive industry.


The app was also among the 17 finalists for the 2015 MTN App of the Year Awards, out of a more than 400 app entries


The need

As digital technology has become progressively more embodied in the automotive industry, particularly in terms of creating ‘intelligent' vehicles that alert customers to such things as the need for services and new tyres, Toyota SA realised that customers were not quite as connected to the organisation as the vehicles they drive.


"It was time to reverse a general industry situation in which vehicles are closer to their manufacturers and dealer networks than the customers driving them," says John Thomson, General Manager of Service and Parts Operations at Toyota SA.


"We wanted to empower owners to manage their experience with us and we wanted Toyota enthusiasts to have access to comprehensive information about our vehicles.


"Overall, we wanted to take our CRM capabilities into an altogether new league in which the customer's ability to interact with us actually becomes an operational asset in that it makes us more efficient and cost-effective."


Aware of Toyota SA's connected customer strategy, Britehouse Automotive, proposed the idea of a mobile app. An automotive software development specialist, Britehouse Automotive has been partnering with Toyota SA for the past ten years in creating back end systems that are fully integrated.


"We have been fortunate in that Toyota SA insists that its technology suppliers function as close partners and not simply as suppliers – and that the partners understand all the business's processes, operations, and strategies," says Callie Human, Operations Director Britehouse Automotive. "So, we've been intimately involved in developing a suite of CRM specific systems for Toyota SA, including e-Toyota Plus for sales, Service Plus for after sales, and CCC for customer care. We knew that the extraordinary levels of integration within those systems would provide the ideal information source for an app aimed at giving customers an exceptional experience."


Because of its unique integration of manufacturer, dealer, and group back office systems, Toyota SA's comprehensive CRM solution gives the company a holistic view of its customers in a single database. Having all the customer and vehicle data in one place, with a complete interaction history, was what made it possible to create an app that not only enables customers to manage their own relationship with the company but also reduces operational complexity for the company.


The answer

Working closely with the Toyota SA business and IT teams, Britehouse Automotive wrote an easy-to-use, intuitive, and easily navigable mobile app that enables customers to manage their own sales quotes and deals along with their workshop interactions and services, call centre interactions, all electronic communication, personal details, and interactions with Toyota Financial Services.

The app also contains features that make it easy for a customer to ‘enter' a Toyota showroom via a new vehicle catalogue, locate a dealer, and book a test drive. The customer can access roadside assistance (real time with the AA), extended warranty, service, and maintenance plans, and his or her log book.


Social functionality designed to meet the specific needs of the Toyota community, the largest and most active automotive community in South Africa, includes Toyota Events, My Calendar, My People, My Places, a Facebook feed, a Twitter feed, a Toyota News Feed, and the Toyota Zone, Toyota's in-house publication.


The link to family and friends, found under Utilities, allows real-time tracking if the necessary permission is given.


The app can be downloaded at no cost from the Google Play Store for Android devices and the Apple AppStore for IOS devices. Registration with an e-mail address, ID number, and cellphone number triggers a One Time Pin to be sent to the customer's phone for log in. The app then automatically links existing vehicles to the customer profile, based on the last known owner interaction with a dealer.


The business wins

Toyota SA has a world-beating customer experience delivery system that covers the full range of a customer's interaction with the company. Early feedback from some 20 000 customers has been so positive that the company has plans to roll out a similar system for Lexus customers.


Plans are also in place to keep enhancing the MyToyota app with even more features as the new customer relationships that the app makes possible give rise to new opportunities.


In the process of improving customer experience, Toyota SA has been able to optimise its own sales and service resources, enabling it to do more for less.