DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. credits a deep understanding of truck customers for the sales success of its F-series line of pickups.
Now the automaker wants to apply that same buyer-centric approach to the overall vehicle purchase process.
Ford on Thursday announced a series of initiatives designed to improve the customer experience. They include a new loyalty rewards program; redesigned call centers; and pilot programs for a mobile service network, easier lease renewal and new types of showrooms.
Although officials wouldn't disclose details, they said Ford is doubling the amount of money it spends on customer experience in an effort to improve its standing among rivals such as Toyota.
"We're sort of middle of the pack," said Elena Ford, the automaker's chief customer experience officer and great-great-granddaughter of founder Henry Ford. "We want to grow to be best in class. If we truly want to be serious about customer experience, we have to resource it like we do F-150."
The automaker late last year announced intentions to focus more on customer loyalty and retention instead of conquesting buyers from other brands, which they say is harder. Customer experience is at the heart of retention, Ford said, and the company looked to non-automotive companies such as Apple, Google, Marriott and JetBlue for best practices they could emulate.
"When experiences are good, we're rewarded with higher loyalty," Ford said.