Ford Customer ExperienceFord Motor Company took home a silver award in the Customer-Centric Culture category at the inaugural Loyalty360 CX Awards unveiled at the 4th Annual Loyalty360 Engagement & Experience Expo this week in Dallas, TX.  

Andrew Ashman, Lincoln Client Experience Manager, Ford Motor Company sat down with Loyalty360 to discuss his company’s fervent push toward a comprehensive customer-centric culture.

What specific things has Ford done to improve the consumer experience in the past couple of years that it continues to do?

The consumer experience encompasses the entire organization and there are several large workstreams throughout the organization that focus on the customer. We are working together to make it easy for the customer to work with us. This includes manufacturing, marketing and sales, product development and service. It is a long process but we are making tremendous improvements across all of our internal organizations. 

In addition, we are increasing dialogue around about what makes a consumer- centric company and including our retailers in the conversation. This is allowing us to have open discussions that we have not had previously including how to help develop leaders at all levels. We are being more proactive in helping create a strong culture within the organization and this is having a profound impact on the customer experience. 

How has customer feedback during this time helped Ford frame its customer-centric efforts going forward?

By changing our approach from focusing on the problems to looking at the moments when our customers love us, our solutions have been much more powerful. The customer verbatims of ‘happy’ customers told us that when we do it right, it is because of the people that they interacted with. They had an emotional connection with the people that served them and this gave them an emotional connection to the brand. This change in approach and the use of the positive verbatim comments has allowed us to increase customer loyalty by five percentage points in sales and seven percentage points in service. 

What has Ford learned about its customers during this period of time that it didn’t know before?

In the past, we focused on the process element of the experience. How to move faster was the driver of our efforts. What we have learned is that the people element is so much more important and will have a greater impact on customer loyalty. This has led to the development of the Consumer Experience Movement and significant investment to help the managers in our stores to become real leaders, to help them get the most out of their people. While there is still a lot of work on improving the process, the impact of our people is significantly higher.

With the customer more in control than ever before, how difficult is it to arrive at the right expectations and services that fit their needs?

It will require a complete mindset change in the way we train and prepare our frontline teams. In the past, we would focus on the process and ‘script’ what we want to happen. Then expect our frontline people and the customers to follow that script. Today, there is no script, every customer will take his or her own path through the sales and service experience. This will require developing our frontline people and empowering them to help customers on their terms. They will need to be prepared to be more transparent and build a relationship with each customer. In an industry that wants to have tremendous control, this will be a real challenge, but when we get it right, we will have a tremendous advantage in the market place. CEM is the building block to get it right for our dealers and our customers.

What does winning an award from Loyalty360 mean to Ford and its dealers?

We could not be more excited about the honor from Loyalty360. Ford and our retailers have been working together over the past five years to create an experience that our customers will love. Our goal is to build long-term relationships with our customers by treating them with respect, building trust, and allowing them to be in control of the experience. The Consumer Experience Movement (CEM) has been a true differentiator for Ford and our retailers and customers are seeing a real difference when they visit our stores. Under the leadership of Elena Ford, vice president of the Ford Global Dealer and Consumer Experience, we have taken CEM global to ensure Ford continues to be the brand customers love. This award provides outside validation that we are on the right track. 

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