Ford Division will cut the length of its customer-satisfaction survey in half and consider dropping the top-box scoring method despised by dealers.
The simplified survey could include a new scoring system, Ford Division President Steve Lyons acknowledged Sunday after the Ford make meeting. Dealers currently get credit toward customer-satisfaction ratings only if the customer checks the top box, which indicates the highest level of satisfaction.
Some dealer employees subsequently coach customers - or worse - for top scores, manipulating the process. That undermines the value of the resulting ratings, critics charge.
Said Lyons: "One of my Ford dealers said to me, 'You know, I've been married for 31 years, but if I had to do a survey, I'm not even sure I could check top box.' That hit a chord. I do think we'll look at whether we should adjust that. We're not going to do anything unless the dealers agree."
The current survey is four pages long. Lyons said the new survey will be no longer than two pages. Ford is circulating draft surveys among dealers and seeking their feedback.
Ford is reworking the customer survey as it develops a replacement for its existing Blue Oval dealer-certification program, which ends in March 2005. Ford will drop the bonus payments attached to the certification, but it still wants a way to rate dealership performance.
Randy Fuller, a Ford dealer in Show Low, Ariz., who attended the make meeting, said that Lyons "said we're going to have (a new) Blue Oval because he's deathly afraid we'll backslide on CSI."