Ford Australia is aiming to revolutionise its customer experience by copying Apple and Starbucks.
The company, which will switch from being a local manufacturer to an import-only business in November 2017, is undertaking a transformational retail and ownership campaign to personalise the way people buy and own cars.
Using a combination of communication and technology, Ford Dealers are being redesigned around a customer-centric process in both the sales and service departments.
Ford’s consumer experience manager, Robert DeFilippo, admitted the dealership strategy was a way of addressing some poor scoring feedback from consumers as well as giving Ford a true point of difference in the market.
“This is just the first wave”, said DeFeilippo. “We are using technology that buyers feel comfortable with to help them in turn feel more comfortable with the car buying and servicing process.”
Ford Australia’s sales and marketing boss Graeme Whickman said the concept is being benchmarked against such retail powerhouses as Apple and Starbucks, providing a standardized process and shared database resource to (eventually) all dealers around the country.
This ensures that a customer receives the same level of service and attention to detail no matter where they are.
The process is being trialled in 23 dealers now, and will expand to 80 Ford dealers nationally by the end of 2015.
Whickman said the pilot dealers were showing better results for customer experiences.
Initially, prospective buyers are greeted by sales staff armed with iPads who engage the customer with a ‘needs assessment’ widget and digital brochures to help guide the buyer to the car that best suits them.
The technology continues on the test drive where pre-programmed content provides a detailed narrative of the car – not unlike an audio tour at an art gallery or tourist destination.
Once a car is ordered, buyers are updated by email of the whole process – from building to shipping and final pre-delivery preparation.
New Ford owners can specify the radio station presets and even the climate control temperature they want configured in their car before taking delivery.
Even the excitement of the final handover of your new pride-and-joy is taken care of, with every new Ford being ‘silked’ – owners pull back a silk sheet to reveal their car basking in the showroom light.
Ford’s personalisation focus continues on to the service department with all bookings able to be made online, with full transparency as to costs and timeframes.
Customers booking a capped price service receive membership to their state’s Autoclub for 12-month roadside assist. What’s more, Ford are rolling out capped servicing for all models for the life of the car.
“Elevating loyalty and customer experience is (our) number one priority,” said Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano.
Ford Australia has an additional goal to become the most respected automotive brand in Australia by 2020.