When Mercedes-Benz USA executive Greg Forbes heard that two of the automaker's East Coast dealerships were using text messaging software called myKaarma to communicate with service customers, he decided to visit them.
Mercedes was working with another vendor to develop a texting product, says Forbes, the company's department manager of service product management. It viewed myKaarma as a threat.
Mercedes' dealership managers and dealer council liked the other company. But service advisers -- who "hate everything," Forbes joked -- endorsed myKaarma, he says. Mercedes now uses the texting software in 256 of its 379 U.S. dealerships.
"Once you try it, you have a hard time giving it up," Forbes told Fixed Ops Journal.
The myKaarma software runs on mobile phones and desktop and tablet computers. It has two main features: customer communication and payment. Both are text-based.
The vendor bundles all of a dealership's phone lines for service into one phone number, so communication from the service department is easily identifiable to customers.
The company charges a $3,900 setup and training fee. Thereafter, dealerships pay around $1,000 a month for the service.