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Ford takes the free sat-nav data route

In Sync: Ford is trying to navigate its way through the customer satisfaction minefield with better service and freebies such as annual sat-nav updates.

Battle to improve Ford customer satisfaction stepped up with free Sync2 updates

Ford logo15 Jun 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

FORD Australia has become the latest motor company to include free satellite navigation map upgrades as part of its drive to lift customer satisfaction standards in a program that has already reaped a 37 per cent improvement in service retention since 2012.

Following on from initiatives such as free service loan cars, roadside emergency service and capped price servicing, Ford will now provide free annual sat-nav upgrades for its Sync2 system – previously costing $79 a pop – during regular services from July 1.

While it is a global Ford first, the MapCare updates are similar to those offered by Australian importer Sime Darby to its Peugeot, Citroen and DS owners since November last year.

While the French brands give owners three updates over three years, Ford’s offer entitles owners to updates for seven years, until 2024 when the Sync2 system will cease to be updated.

Of course, it is another reason for Ford car owners to head back to their Ford dealership for regular services, instead of drifting away to aftermarket operators.

After years of falling sales and dwindling customer satisfaction levels in Australia, Ford claims that a mix of product and customer service has reaped rewards in the showrooms, with sales up 16.4 per cent so far this year in a market up 3.8 per cent.

Announcing the sat-nav move in Melbourne today, Ford Australia CEO and president Graeme Whickman said Australia was adding about 120,000 kilometres of new roads with 23,000 new road names and 2000 new roundabouts a year.

 center imageLeft: Ford Australia president & CEO Graeme Whickman.

“The free map updates makes it easier for our customers to get around, and adds to other unique conveniences such as our free loan car program and the value of our unique auto club program,” he said.

“We are investing more in Australia than any other automaker, including billions in R&D, a record number of new vehicles and a new way of doing business at our dealerships.”

Mr Whickman said his company was determined to take the Ford customer experience to a new level.

He said customer satisfaction levels were approaching best-ever levels at Ford Australia, attracting interest from other Ford jurisdictions.

One of the initiatives is the Dealerships of the Future program to improve the customer sales and service experience with a mix of bricks-and-mortar, technology and cultural improvements. Launched in December 2014, this scheme includes regular staff training from customer service experts.

Mr Whickman said the dealership program had been rolled out to dealerships covering 75 per cent of customers, and it was hoped to expand that to beyond 80 per cent by the end of this year.

“We are just getting started and we already have seen significant progress in sales and service satisfaction, which has helped us increase sales and improve service retention as this has become a differentiator for Ford.”

Mr Whickman said the free loan car program that offers new Ford vehicles to service customers had grown from 1490 vehicles when it was established in February last year to more than 1600 now.

The company has made sure the public knows about the moves, widely advertising the program on television and elsewhere.

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