DEARBORN - Engaging customers andencouraging them to be enthusiastic advocates of Ford products and services is the goal of the Consumer Experience Movement, a collaborative effort between Ford and its dealers designed to make the dealership experience an exceptional one for Ford and Lincoln customers.
“Research shows that our dealers do a great job satisfying our customers, but even complete customer satisfaction does not guarantee loyalty to the dealership or the company,” said Andrew Ashman, manager, Ford Consumer Experience.
“We need to create an emotional connection beyond reason to encourage loyalty. When we look at some of the top consumer companies, that is exactly what they do. Think about Apple. Their customers are so loyal that even when there is an issue, like with the iPhone 4, customers still line up to buy the iPad.”
Since late 2010, the Ford Consumer Experience team has been working together with 27 dedicated dealers to develop a plan to make Ford and Lincoln dealerships the premier place to buy and service a vehicle.
According to Brett Wheatley, director, Ford Customer Service Division, the plan begins with dealership employees.
“Dealership employees are our most effective resource for building loyal customer advocates,” he said. “The Consumer Experience Movement helps them develop the skills necessary to engage customers and foster brand loyalty.”
Professional coaches teach employees how to work together more effectively, and advanced customer service techniques help them understand the emotional side of developing lasting relationships with customers.
“We need to go beyond customer satisfaction and create fans of our business,” said Collin Sewell, chairman, Ford Dealer Council, and owner of Sewell Ford in Odessa, Texas. “The Consumer Experience Movement provides us with the tools and resources to make that happen in our dealerships.”
In June, 120 dealers in the Central and Southeast regions began the Consumer Experience Movement. The program will be available to all dealers in the first quarter of 2012.
“We’re seeing Ford interact with dealers in a way we’ve never done before,” said Frederiek Toney, vice president, Ford Customer Service Division. “The feedback from dealers has been terrific.”
Ashman says the Consumer Experience Movement coupled with Ford’s revamped product line puts the company in an ideal position to attract new customers to the Blue Oval.
“Ford is poised to flourish in the postrecession market,” he said. “Partnering with our dealer network to build customer loyalty and excitement will be the key to creating a true competitive advantage.”