Toronto, April 15, 2020 – The COVID-19 global pandemic is causing enormous economic upheaval. With so many businesses closing their doors and laying off employees, many Canadians have suddenly found themselves out of work - and in difficult financial situations.
In one automaker’s opinion, though, the last thing any loyal customer should have to worry about is being able to make the payments on the vehicle they depend on.
“Over the years, our customers have come to trust us to work with them, to be flexible and to respond to their needs,” said Darren Cooper, President and CEO, Toyota Financial Services. “In a time of crisis, we believe it’s more important than ever that we maintain that trust by staying flexible enough to continue to meet their needs.”
Right now, we’re all facing a challenge that we have yet to fully understand. Together, we can overcome it. Toyota Financial Services is offering flexible payment options to our Toyota family through these unprecedented times. Learn more: https://t.co/JB7LVWlIyi #MovingAsOne pic.twitter.com/vwJq4TqeA9— Toyota Canada (@ToyotaCanada) April 4, 2020
Shortly after COVID-19 began to affect the finances of a large number of Canadians, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and Lexus Financial Services (LFS) took steps to accommodate customers in need by offering various payment relief options.
They announced that customer requests would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and that financial relief would take the form of payment deferrals or lease extensions. At the same time, TFS and LFS committed that there would be no negative impact to the credit rating of customers who were granted this type of financial relief.
Customers seeking payment relief were encouraged to call the company’s 1-800 number…. and to say the response was overwhelming would be an understatement.
“Almost overnight, we experienced a massive influx of calls from concerned customers, with nearly double the call volume we handled on a typical day before the pandemic,” said Cooper. “Unfortunately, this meant our customers had to wait much longer than usual before they were able to speak to one of our customer service representatives. Even though our reps were working extremely hard to handle a huge number of calls, many of our customers were, quite understandably, frustrated with the situation.”
So TFS and LFS apologized to their customers and took immediate action to bring the wait times back to what they were used to. They boosted the staffing of their customer care centre by 175 per cent. They increased the number of phone lines lease from their telecommunications provider by 50 per cent. And they updated the customer portal on their website to enable more self-service.
“We want to ensure customers are able to reach Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial Services as quickly as possible to receive the support they need,” Cooper added. “So we aggressively tackled the challenge by implementing a number of significant countermeasures.”
And it worked. Shortly after taking the aforementioned steps, TFS and LFS handled more than 2,000 calls in one day and brought their average wait time down to less than 10 minutes (almost half of what they were in the days after call volumes started to soar).
Today, TFS and LFS customers who would like to request payment deferrals are being encouraged to call 1-800-661-3062. The company says customers with leases coming due and who wish to request a lease extension, should contact their local Toyota or Lexus dealer first. And customers can also access a number of self-service options to manage their own account 24/7 through the customer portal at www.portal.toyotafinancial.ca and www.portal.lexusfinancial.ca.
While they’re still experiencing an extremely high call volume, Cooper committed to staying focused on the customer as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic:
“We’re going to continue to closely monitor the situation and take whatever actions we can to ensure our customers who have financed or leased a Toyota or Lexus vehicle continue to receive the same high level of support they’re used to getting from us – especially at this most challenging time.”