With stalled production of the much-anticipated release of the new Ford Bronco–a 21st-century take on the cult classic, Ford came up with a wild idea to create a satisfaction fund. It gives dealers $1,000 to buy customers alcohol or any other items they feel will make the situation better.
Ford’s slow production is not an isolated case. Every company is facing increasing shortages of materials and staff, slow shipping times and increasingly scarce supplies. But unlike many, Ford offers more than just a mass apology and generic mass emails. Instead, its Satisfaction enables dealerships to create custom experiences to help dampen the aggravation of long wait times, and in some cases, making the wait a little more interesting, and this isn’t Ford’s first powerful lesson in leadership during a crisis.
Ford’s corporate communication to dealers noted that customers could buy them a bottle their favourite bourbon, or liquor to show goodwill. Some dealers have other ideas.
For example, according to the Detroit Free Press, one Ford dealership manager out of Florida, Jeff King, is renting the offroad facility (a.k.a. The Off-Roadeo is a Texas facility that transports 35 people to Texas and puts them in hotels for the night. King says that “for us, it’s more important to create experiences than purchase keychains for people.” Experiences are the key.
In other words, Ford isn’t just offering customer services, but customer experiences–something far more powerful.
The genius of this program is in the realization that Ford cannot speed up the waiting. Instead of ignoring the problem and trying to get rid of it, the program tries to address the problem by at least reducing the waiting time.
Ford understands the needs of consumers, and puts its efforts into their shoes. While other companies might be focusing on increasing production speed, Ford is more concerned with how they feel about what they are doing. Even if Ford can cut down on production for a few more days it is not enough.
Ford values the experiences of its customers. This is a very valuable tool for consumers. People don’t expect things to change, whether it’s waiting for a new car, or a delay in their flight, but they expect that an issue will be addressed.
Ford allows dealerships to decide how the money is spent, which helps ensure the program’s effectiveness. Ford not only recognizes the need to address the problem, but also recognizes the importance of allowing dealers to decide how they spend the money.
Instead of corporate creating one program that applies to all Bronco buyers, it individualizes the experience by allowing on-location personnel at ground zero to get involved. This gives the dealers more control and a greater impact on the overall outcome. It gives dealers ownership of the customer experience.
The best service does not just refer to providing the most efficient or fastest services, it also means providing the best customer experience by understanding the needs of the consumer. It is possible to provide comfort for customers by recognizing a small but sincere issue. It is easy for companies to make it seem as though they aren’t aware of an issue.
Customers want to feel that the business they do business with understands them, even if it isn’t able to address their specific needs. Although it is not something any business would like to admit, those businesses that face the problem head-on will save their face and help them overcome other obstacles.
Customer service is no longer about solving problems. It’s all about creating experiences for customers that solve problems. Great customer service requires great knowledge. A small gesture could make all the difference. Businesses that are open to this simple approach to customer satisfaction will be successful.
Publiated at Sun, 12 Sept 2021 8:09:33 +0000