Ford Division will shorten its customer satisfaction survey by half, and it may eliminate the dreaded top-box scoring method.
Dealers get credit toward customer satisfaction ratings only when the customer checks the top box, which indicates the highest level of satisfaction.
But the simplified surveys could include a new scoring system, Ford Division President Steve Lyons acknowledged after the Ford make meeting.
"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 the top box,' " Lyons said. "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."
Some dealership employees subsequently coach customers for top scores, thus manipulating the process. That undermines the value of the surveys, critics say.
The current survey is four pages long. The new survey will be no longer than two pages, Lyons said. Ford is circulating draft surveys among dealers for feedback.
Ford is reworking the customer survey as it develops a replacement for its Blue Oval dealer certification program. The existing program ends in March 2005. Ford will drop the bonus payments that are linked to certification, but it still wants to rate dealership performance.
The new Blue Oval would require a new customer satisfaction program and a new payment system for dealers, Lyons said. "We're looking at everything: floorplan finance charges, advertising - the whole mix."
Lyons told dealers that Blue Oval compensation will continue to be tied to performance, said Randy Fuller, a Ford dealer from Show Low, Ariz.
"We're going to have (a new) Blue Oval because he's deathly afraid we'll backslide on CSI," Fuller said.