For the Love of the Customer

Toyota Quality Champions, who voluntarily submit Dealer Product Reports, are the brand’s eyes and ears on the front lines

October 02, 2018

Investigative Work -- Master Diagnostic Technician Rene Doess has serviced and repaired vehicles at Freeman Toyota in Santa Rosa, California, since 1994. "I enjoy drilling down to the root cause of a problem until I find out what happened," he says.

Rene Doess didn’t know much about Toyota when he landed a job in the service department at Freeman Toyota in Santa Rosa, California, in 1994. But he knew that he loved working on cars.
 
“I grew up in my uncle’s repair shop,” says Doess, who was born and raised in Switzerland and moved to the United States in 1992. “I had experience with French cars, like Citroen. But not Toyota.”
 
Now, 24 years later, the master diagnostic technician loves getting up close and personal with Toyota vehicles, too. It’s a deep emotional connection that routinely leads him to go above and beyond the call of duty.
 
Doess, you see, doesn’t just fix cars. He also frequently shares his findings with Toyota so that the manufacturing plant that assembled the vehicle in question — as well as his fellow technicians at Toyota dealerships across the country — can benefit, too.
 
He accomplishes this by submitting five to 10 Dealership Product Reports (DPR) per month via the company’s Technical Information System. Nationwide, Toyota receives and acts upon some 15,000 of these reports from more than 2,400 technicians on the front lines. All of them have one thing in common: Each was written by a Toyota technician who is passionate about his or her work and the brand.
 
“Like every other technician, I don’t get paid to do this,” says Doess. “I do it on my own time because I care about Toyota and our customers. I do it because I enjoy drilling down to the root cause of a problem until I find out what happened. And I don’t mind the writing part. That seems to come naturally to me.”


Quality Control -- This year's Toyota Quality Champions gather for a group photo during their VIP tour of Toyota's manufacturing plant in San Antonio, Texas. The dealership technicians' reports help guide manufacturing team members in their ongoing efforts to improve product quality.

A Commitment to Quality
 
Doess and 21 other master and master diagnostic technicians like him were recently honored for their commitment by their respective Regions and at a national meeting of Toyota Quality Champions at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) in San Antonio. The highlight of that event: a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of the TMMTX plant where Tundra and Tacoma pickups come to life.
 
The champions also had the chance to meet and interact with the plant’s quality assurance professionals who rely on the DPRs as a starting point for formulating action plans to resolve product issues before vehicles get into the hands of customers.
 
“Their reports go through the same pipeline as the Field Technical Reports (FTRs) that come from the Regions,” says Russell Suzuki, Toyota Motor North America’s manager of field operations and one of the founders of the Toyota Quality Champions program in 2010. “We want the technicians to know that when they click ‘send,’ their reports don’t go into a black hole.
 
“Like all FTRs we receive, DRPs are shared across manufacturing and design departments, as well as with legal and regulatory groups. Toyota wants to know what’s going on with its vehicles. It’s ingrained in our culture. The information they provide helps all of us improve the customer experience.”
 

Knowledge Share -- Doess routinely shares five to 10 Dealership Product Reports per month via the company's Technical Information System. Nationwide, Toyota receives and acts upon some 15,000 of these reports from more than 2,400 technicians on the front lines. 

Here’s How It Works
 
Take, for example, a DPR that Doess submitted in February regarding a 2014 Tundra with its Check Engine light on. He documented all of the drivability issues reported by the customer as well as the diagnostic steps he took that uncovered the problem: a pinched EGR cooler hose. Thanks to that level of detail, TMNA Customer Quality Services and TMMTX were able to research the problem determine if any countermeasures were needed to prevent it from turning up on any other Tundras.
 
James Robertson, the quality assurance manager at TMMTX, had the opportunity to thank Doess for that DPR in person.
 
“We made it clear to all of the Toyota Quality Champions how we utilize their reports to make process changes,” says Robertson. “They are our eyes and ears.”
 
“Each technician can take care of one customer at a time,” says Suzuki. “But with a DPR, they can potentially have an impact on thousands of cars and customers. They’re doing something very important to improve the ownership experience for our customers.”

By Dan Miller

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