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instaMek uses SMS to make scheduling car repair service easier

By using Twilio SMS to enable vehicle owners to connect directly with mobile mechanics, instaMek increased customer satisfaction while decreasing customer call center volume by more than 10 percent.

The Results
Decrease in support calls
Week to add SMS arrival notifications
Cars serviced through instaMek platform

Canadian-based instaMek takes the hassle out of car repair by dispatching certified car mechanics directly to a vehicle owner’s home or office. Coordinating repair information, scheduling, reminders, and arrival ETA has to be dynamic for this mobile service innovator. By integrating Twilio SMS and Voice, instaMek keeps customers up-to-date with real-time text messages and phone calls throughout the entire car repair process.

Creating mobile messaging on the move

instaMek mobile is an on-demand automotive repair company that sends fully licensed and insured mobile mechanics directly to a customer’s doorstep. To initiate service, customers can call, text, or complete an online form detailing their car trouble, their location, and the make, model, and year of their vehicle. instaMek responds within an hour and, shortly thereafter dispatches a ‘Mek’ (instaMek’s shorthand for ‘mechanic’) with all the tools and parts required to repair the vehicle onsite.

Unlike a traditional car repair service, in which the customer is likely waiting in the repair shop or dropping their car off for the day, instaMek facilitates real-time communications with their customers throughout the process. With Twilio SMS and Voice, instaMek has designed a communications platform with automated notifications, reminders, and real-time ETA alerts that connect support staff with customers. Likewise, the Twilio backend connects customers with the actual mechanics assigned to do the repair.

“Repairing cars can be an unpredictable business,” said Mat Lavoie, instaMek’s CTO. “Before implementing Twilio, if a job took longer than anticipated or if a mechanic was running late, our call center received lots of calls, many which only the mechanic could answer. We knew we needed to deploy new functionality to ensure communication at every juncture. Now with Twilio, we have effectively eliminated the middleman by giving our mechanics a direct connection with our customers.”

If a Mek is running late he or she can immediately notify the customer via phone or SMS. Customer support agents can also bring the Mek into the conversation early to help determine the issue with the car and estimate the repair time.

Keeping the lines of communication open between the Mek and the vehicle owner during the entire repair process was essential. But, Lavoie noted, they also needed to develop a transparent customer handoff from the Mek to an instaMek service agent after the repair was completed should the car owner try to contact instaMek again using the same phone number.

To address that challenge, Lavoie took advantage of Twilio’s call forwarding logic to redirect the customer’s calls or texts automatically to instaMek’s support center, creating a great experience for the customer, and enabling the Mek to focus on their next repair job.

Following the guide in Twilio for building masked numbers instaMek added the job time as a trigger in step 6 to modify the intermediate number to route to our operations team “Jon” in this case.

Creating the response is as simple as going into the Twilio console and configuring a phone number you have purchased with an endpoint for when Calls come in.

The response from the endpoint in the example above could be as simple as the following XML.

<Dial callerId="XXX-XXXX" method="POST" action="http://instamek.com/CallEndsEndpoint" timeout="20">

For instaMek we use the caller and the status of the job to determine who the call should be routed to.

“With the Twilio implementation, we’ve seen a big decrease of incoming calls and have received extremely positive feedback from our customers,” added Lavoie. In fact, 15% of the calls that were coming in required contact with the mechanic. Now, less than 5% of the calls in the support center need to be resolved by the Mek.

Connecting locally, expanding globally

As with many innovative ideas, instaMek’s business strategy includes global expansion. With that in mind, Lavoie sought a solution that also provided an adaptive carrier network so they could easily send and receive messages throughout Canada, and eventually, throughout the United States.

“Since we were dispatching our mechanics locally, we wanted to find a service that would have a large pool of area codes so it would look local to the customer,” explained Lavoie. “With Twilio, we now forward our SMS through those local numbers to customers in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Mississauga, and Vancouver.”

“Functionality rich APIs and global reach were key factors” for Lavoie’s decision to go with Twilio. And potential US expansion meant that Lavoie needed to plan for a scalable platform.

“We wanted a solution that would scale with us, city by city,“ Lavoie added. “We didn’t want to have to re-engineer our systems twice as we expanded. The fact that Twilio offers a flexible solution and a global network is a great plus for us.”

Seamless communication, easy integration

Throughout the entire implementation process, Lavoie’s main focus was making everything simple for instaMek customers. That meant expert call routing, excellent call quality, and a smooth transition from instaMek’s legacy system to the expanded communications platform.

Turns out that integrating the Twilio APIs was simple. In less than a week, two instaMek developers rolled out the new communication channels and processes without a hitch. So far, customer feedback has been universally positive.

“We typically receive 5 out of 5 stars,” Lavoie said proudly. “Employing this new functionality has had a great impact on the services we provide. And anecdotally, it’s quite good to have more communication channels available to your customer—no matter what kind of company you are.”