DEARBORN - In July of 2011, Ford launched the Consumer Experience Movement (CEM), a revolutionary program designed to transform the dealer-customer relationship into a world-class consumer experience.
The CEM began with 116 Ford and Lincoln stores. Today, 847 U.S. stores – which together represent 47 percent of the vehicle sales volume – are participating in the program. And surveys show that customer satisfaction at those dealerships is improving.
Dealers involved in the first phase of the CEM have seen an increase in customer sales and service satisfaction of 2.6 percentage points, and new vehicle sales are up 22.3 percent since the start of the Movement, representing approximately U.S. $31 million in incremental profit to the company.
Andrew Ashman, manager, CEM, says those numbers are significant.
“We have struggled to improve our satisfaction scores by tenths of a point over the past few years,” he said. “So it is a big move to see them jump this much.”
At the heart of the CEM is employee engagement.
“The Consumer Experience Movement is about helping dealers focus on the people aspect of the business – not just what we do but how we do it,” said Elena Ford, vice president, Global Dealer and Consumer Experience. “It all comes down to how you treat people.”
Dealers who sign up to participate in the CEM are assigned a professional coach who get them started on the road to self-discovery with a Team Member Engagement Survey designed to elicit honest impressions from both management and staff about the quality of the work environment. Once the survey is complete, the coach meets with managers to go over the information and develop a plan of action.
The coaches also gather information through Mystery Shop Reports, which are aimed at evaluating the relationship between store employees and customers, and Customer Viewpoint Reports, which capture feedback from all customer sales and service encounters at the store.
The entire process is designed to provide dealers with comprehensive and valuable insight into their store’s leadership, culture and employee engagement.
“I feel we are definitely working better as a group,” said Chris Savage, general manager, Robinson Brothers Ford Lincoln in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I am in awe of how well we have progressed in that we value what we do as a team over and above any individual achievements.”
Dealer response to the CEM has been overwhelmingly positive. According to Ashman, 93 percent of retailers who have participated in the CEM say they would recommend their coach, and 90 percent would recommend the Movement to another store owner.
“The CEM is having a direct impact on the experience customers have as well as dealership performance which has a direct impact on the company,” he said, adding that he hopes to see more stores engage in the program in 2014. “Because of the Movement, stores are making more customers more loyal to the Brand and true advocates. They’re selling more cars and trucks.
Ford says the U.S. CEM is just the beginning.
“We are taking it to the next level and launching initiatives around the world,” she said.
Canada has already launched CEM. Europe and the Export and Growth team are doning pilots right now. Other Markets are also considering implementing a version of CEM including Australia, India and South America.
“Dealers are the face of Ford,” said Ford. “The CEM has the potential to transform the car buying and servicing experience across the globe. It is about going beyond the concept of satisfying customers and focusing on building loyal advocates for Ford and our dealers.”