LOS ANGELES -- Toyota is rolling out a service-reminder program for customers that will be overseen by the automaker but controlled by individual dealers.
The program's software keeps track of service on every Toyota vehicle at any Toyota dealership. So if a Camry owner just had an oil change, the software will ensure the next correspondence is not about an oil-change promotion.
Instead it might be about a brake special or some other offer, based on the vehicle's mileage and service history, says Dave Camden, Toyota vice president of dealer operations.
The program, which has been in the works for two years, is an effort to build customer loyalty. Most dealers will get the software in January. Dealers will control when, and how many, service promotions get sent to customers.
"Many customers get inundated with direct mail coupons, phone calls and e-mail," Camden said. "The question is how we take the customer from purchase to service to repurchase. We wanted to minimize the fluff they get. This will be strictly for their vehicle at that point in time."
The tricky part for the software is how it handles communications with a customer who bought a car from one dealer but might live closer to another dealer. Or perhaps the customer went for service at one dealership, had a bad experience, and since has gone to another dealership. Which dealer gets to send out the service offer?
Camden said the logic in the software should suppress duplicate correspondence from dealers. "There is a chance you might get a 'conquest' mailer, but our goal is to minimize that," Camden said.
The software is being handled by two vendors, Aspen Marketing of Chicago, and Gulf States Marketing, a subsidiary of Gulf States Toyota. The Aspen product is called NexTouch; Gulf States' is called Atom.