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Ford moots service bays for driveways

Welcome to the hood: Ford says it will even consider servicing cars in customers’ driveways if that’s what they want.

Customer service focus swings to what Ford owners need, car-maker says

11 Apr 2013

FORD Australia will consider servicing cars in owners’ driveways as part of a radical overhaul of the way it does business.

The car-maker has radically overhauled its servicing division over the last two years, with Stephen Kruk, Ford’s general manager of its customer service division, saying the customer’s wants were now the main priority.

“We’re trying not to give customers reasons to leave us,” Mr Kruk said. “Quite the opposite: we’re trying to give them positive reasons to come back (to Ford service centres).

Part of that, he said, was making an attempt to change Ford’s servicing program to provide the same buying experience as any other retail shop.

“When you’re buying a can of Coke, a stereo or a television, that’s exactly the experience (we want).

“You should know what the price is, and you should have confidence and trust that it’s the right price,” Mr Kruk said.

“We’re trying to create that same retail experience to ensure that our customers have got great faith in us, that we’ve got the right servicing option representing the right value, and giving them access to something that they highly value.

“It’s also about going to the customer when it is the right thing to do. It’s not always about the customer coming to us, but about us going to the customer.”

Asked if there were plans to introduce driveway servicing, where the service technicians come to the customers’ homes, Mr Kruk said “in terms of being customer focussed and customer-centric, well, it’s possible”.

“There’s a lot more things (such as driveway servicing) we’re working on to be a lot more retail,” Mr Kruk said.

“The trend for consumers is that they’re able to buy things over the ‘net. So we want to look at how we are able to create an environment for our customers to be able to make service bookings at their preferred dealer at their preferred time in person, without leaving their office.”

Mr Kruk said the car-maker had looked at why it was experiencing a high rate of owners “defecting” from Ford service centres, and the findings came down to price and trust.

“There was a (price) variation between dealers, and customers not being sure what was the right price (for a service),” Mr Kruk said.

He said once customers started to get multiple quotes for the one service, they started to lose trust in the system.

“The capped-price servicing campaign was there to really address that perception that (dealership service centres) were more expensive,” he said.

Customers are now able to go on the Ford Australia website and get a quote for scheduled service intervals.

Mr Kruk said they could print that quote out and take it into a service centre, removing uncertainty about the cost.

“Almost universally with this program, we have no surprises,” he said. “The systems that our dealers operate with is that (quote) is what the price of the scheduled service is, and they discuss the cost of anything else needing to be done over and above it with the customer.

“The future of service is about being more customer-friendly and making it easier for the customer to engage.”

Ford’s latest venture in terms of customer retention is a loyalty program where the car-maker will pay for a car owner’s basic membership of a motoring group, which will then provide roadside assistance.

It replaces Ford’s previous roadside assistance program that had been in place for the past 18 months.

Ford will then tip in for owners’ motoring club memberships for up to seven years - as long as they stick with dealer servicing over that time.

“It’s really a learning from our earlier program,” Mr Kruk said. “We’re really upgrading the value of why you would service your Ford with Ford.

“Customer loyalty is something that you can no longer buy,” he said. “You really have to earn that trust.”

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