How Toyota Strengthens Customer Relationships with Userlike

The automotive industry is in a state of upheaval. According to experts, manufacturers will have to evolve from being purely carmakers to mobility service providers in the next few years to maintain success. Creating meaningful customer relationships is a crucial step on this path.

Brain and clock

Toyota, the world's largest car manufacturer, made this an integral part of their corporate philosophy. Focusing on excellent customer service stems from their Japanese roots and can be summed up by the word "omotenashi," which means "hospitality and courteous service."

It’s no surprise that the car manufacturer adapted to changing customer behavior early on and looked for ways to provide customers with the best possible digital service.

With Userlike’s website chat and WhatsApp channel, Toyota is always there for its customers.

Direct customer contact is also increasing for manufacturers

Around 220 employees work at Toyota Germany's Cologne location - in addition to the many employees at more than 350 trade partners throughout Germany. Before, they mostly relied on traditional channels for customer contact, but Toyota noticed that customers are more interested in digital channels, especially since Toyota is often the first point of contact as the actual manufacturer.

Becoming a mobility service provider will eventually lead to more direct customer contact in the future. This means expanding customer service to convenient channels such as chat and messaging is a must.

Generating leads with website chat

With the goal of generating more website leads, Toyota added live chat to its website for the first time in 2016. "We wanted to turn website visitors into active prospects by answering any questions they had and giving them an easy way to get in touch," explains Roland Blask, customer experience specialist at Toyota.

Today, their website is an ideal place for sharing new offers with online customers. And if they are interested, they can forward the customer to a dealer near them for a test drive, for example.

The search for a suitable provider was easy. Userlike allows you to create an account on their website, with which you can immediately start a free trial. In the end, this short-term and successful test in combination with a very good price-performance ratio was the reason why Userlike was my first choice. The convincing overall package made the decision for Userlike an easy one.

Roland Blask, customer experience specialist at Toyota

Chat as most popular customer service channel

The live chat team at Toyota in Cologne consists of eight employees who are available to answer customer questions seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Initially, the chat was supposed to primarily support lead generation, but Blask quickly noticed that regular customers and visitors used the chat and preferred it to their customer hotline or contact form.

Photo from the Toyota website showing Userlike
With website chat, customers can contact Toyota at any time with questions.

Their customer service team now receives up to 6,000 chats per month, which accounts for around 50% of all inquiries. The rest is equally divided between traditional channels such as email and phone.

For us, website chat and WhatsApp, in addition to lead generation, is primarily a tool to improve the user experience on our website. Since there is a lot of information on the Toyota website, it’s not always easy to find exactly the information that the customer needs at that moment. Userlike provides us with a quick way to get website visitors on the right track.

Roland Blask, customer experience specialist at Toyota

"Email and phone are generally used for much more complex inquiries, such as warranty cases or technical questions," says Roland Blask. "Live chat, on the other hand, tends to be used for simpler questions, which are then often related to a planned purchase."

The clear advantage of chat over email, according to Blask, is that customers receive an immediate response. Userlike lets Toyota accompany their customers along the entire buyer journey, which positively influences their purchase decision.

WhatsApp promotes proximity to the customer

For Toyota, Omotenashi means creating a bond with the customer that goes far beyond pure service. It means not only adapting to customers' needs, but anticipating them in order to offer the best possible Toyota experience. This is particularly important for the automotive group in its role as a mobility service provider.

To get set on the right track, Blask's team decided to add WhatsApp as another communication channel alongside live chat.

From my point of view, it is a matter of course for an automotive manufacturer and importer to offer live chat and WhatsApp in customer service. In addition, the popular messenger also offers the company operational advantages in combination with a browser-based live chat.

Roland Blask, customer experience specialist at Toyota

"After a few simple tests with the WhatsApp business app, we noticed that service via this solution was rather difficult," Blask recalls. "Thanks to Userlike, we gained access to the WhatsApp API in just a few steps and have since been able to offer professional customer service via the messaging app."

"WhatsApp is now directly integrated into the website messenger; this way, our customers can choose for themselves at the beginning of a conversation whether they want to communicate with us via the messaging channel or website chat."

In addition to the benefits mentioned before, the combination of WhatsApp and live chat also lets Toyota manage team workload more consciously.

"WhatsApp does not require immediate responses compared to live chat. This means that messages via this channel can be answered during workload gaps, which works more efficiently for the team," explains Roland Blask.

Identifying what steps to take early on to respond to industry changes and adapt to them is what secures Toyota’s competitive advantage.With website chat and the WhatsApp channel, Userlike helps Toyota Germany be there for customers in a direct and personal way as a manufacturer and to increase sales.

If you also want to start with live chat or WhatsApp, contact us for more information or create a free Userlike test account.