Self-Service Savings

New IT service portal aims to speed resolution, cut costs across Toyota’s North American affiliates

October 13, 2015

If you knew that—by making a small change in behavior—you could save the company $10, would you do it? Would you be even more inclined to pitch in if these savings could be multiplied by the thousands per month if your fellow team members followed suit?
If you answered, “yes” to these two questions, then Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) Information Technology department would like you to know about One Toyota Service. Launched in March, this website promises one-stop shopping for team members across all North American affiliates who need help sorting out the technology they use to carry out their day-to-day duties.
In the more than six months since it went live, the service Portal has largely succeeded in resolving the issues raised there in a timely and efficient manner. The challenge? Encouraging more team members to use it and to provide feedback on how to improve the site. Both are critical to help identify what is and isn’t working well.
“Team members have become accustomed to picking up the phone and calling the IT Service Desk when they have a challenge,” says Peter Amstutz, National Manager of IS Strategic Process Management. “Also, many people get help by sending emails, which often don’t contain enough information to sort out the issue right away. We almost always need to call back. Both avenues can take longer and cost more to resolve than self-service.”
Power to the Portal
Instead of making a phone call or sending an email, Amstutz recommends that you pull up the portal, either by typing the URL directly into your web browser or searching for “One Toyota Service” on Toyota Connect. Once there, you’ll be able to:
  • Report a problem
  • Make a request
  • Check the status of an inquiry
  • Ask and/or search for answers to IT questions
  • Provide feedback to the support team
Your details will find their way to the same experts, but will likely do so as quickly and comprehensively than if you initiated the ticket via the more familiar channels. That can speed up the process while saving the company money—a true win-win. The more team members use the portal, the more efficient it will become at delivering support.
“Meanwhile, we’re taking advantage of TMNA’s temporary office in Plano to experiment with what works and doesn’t work for support,” says Amstutz. “We have more options to work with now. Our goal is to get everyone up and running as fast as we can, and to keep it that way as long as possible.”

Team Building -- Members of the cross-affiliate team that brought One Toyota Service to life enjoy a lighthearted moment away from the grind of the development process.

The New Frontier
On a broader scale, One Toyota Service represents the new frontier for Toyota as it seeks to consolidate its various North American affiliates into a unified organization. Amstutz says IT colleagues at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) began talking about building a shared support system long before the company announced the move to Plano.
“Before the announcement, we had agreed to build two entities but share resources,” says Amstutz. “After, we asked: ‘Why build two? Let’s do one.’”
That’s proven to be quite a journey. But the lessons learned in the creative back-and-forth among TMS and TEMA team members could help pave the way for collaboration on other fronts moving forward.
“We can’t operate ahead of where the organization is,” he says. “We’ve had to adopt a lead/lag approach. We bring the teams together and show what’s possible. We implement what we can and then let it settle. But the challenging part—full and comprehensive integration—will have to come later. It will have to wait until the organization is ready.”
In the meantime, One Toyota Service keeps chugging along—supporting team members while serving as a catalyst for change. Amstutz says payroll could be the next function to be brought under the same self-service umbrella.
“IT is used to providing service desk and self-service support on a high volume basis,” he says. “But it could also be applied to payroll, HR, legal and more. We recognize, though, that it could to take some time for that model to catch on.”
By Dan Miller

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