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Ford extends fixed-price servicing scheme

You gotta lift: Ford is expanding its sales and service programs after a below average result in the recent 2014 JD Power Customer Service Index.

Lifetime capped-price servicing on way as Ford transforms dealership experience

9 Dec 2014

FORD Australia has announced that it will expand its capped-priced servicing scheme from February next year to cover the lifetime of the vehicle.

Applying to all Ford vehicles built from 2007, the new fixed-price scheme – which improves on the current seven-year/135,000km cover – is part of a comprehensive ‘dealerships of the future’ program the company has devised to improve its facilities and levels of customer service at both the point of sale and in the aftersales service area.

The new initiatives follow the introduction earlier this year of lifetime capped-priced servicing deals from rival brands such as Mazda, Hyundai and Subaru, plus other highly competitive warranty, roadside assistance and servicing programs from other brands.

They also come just two weeks after Ford received a disappointing result in the 2014 JD Power Customer Service Index (CSI) study, which saw it slip below the industry average this year for customer satisfaction with the aftersales servicing process.

Among the measures designed to improve its performance in this area, the Blue Oval brand is introducing online service scheduling, automated appointment reminders (via email or SMS), an ‘interactive’ service reception staffed by iPad-equipped service advisors, updates on the status of the vehicle on the day of repair, and a detailed ‘vehicle report card’ on the condition of the vehicle at the end of each service.

In the showroom, Ford says it will now employ non-sales-oriented concierges as the first point of contact for prospective customers, while sales staff will work with iPads and a host of mobile apps to assist in areas such as product selection, inventory, pricing, comparisons with rivals and test drives.

The latter involves a ‘Smart Drive USB’ that provides an explanation of the car’s features via Ford’s Sync in-car communications system.

Ford will also now interact with owners via ‘keep me informed’ emails during the waiting period for vehicle delivery, will tailor vehicle settings such as preset radio stations to customer preferences ahead of the handover and, when the car is ready, will stage a personalised reveal along similar lines to a motor show premiere.

The company says more than 20 dealers in Melbourne and Sydney have completed the first pilots of the scheme, with 80 dealerships to come on stream by the end of next year.

“Innovation is at the forefront of design in all of our vehicles, so we are investing in technology on the dealership floor to give customers the most personalised, transparent experience possible,” said Ford Australia marketing, sales and service vice-president Graeme Whickman.

“While we are reinventing the dealership experience, many customers will actually find it very familiar to the technology they use every day or even from online shopping.”

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