Ford Brings UX To Showrooms, Outlines 'Consumer Experience' Initiative For Dealers

NEW ORLEANS -- Consumer experience is very much a theme at NADA's annual conference here this weekend. BMW's Ludwig Willisch talked about it on Friday and Ford, which launched the Consumer Experience Movement (CEM) three years ago, had some metrics to talk about at NADA on Saturday.

Elena Ford, Ford's vice president-global dealer and consumer experience, and dealers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. discussed how the program has changed the dealership culture. The fundamental idea is that if dealer owners or managers wants to improve performance they should start with how sales staff communicate, not just with each, other but with other staff, managers, service providers and everyone else under the roof.

Ford said the global program, developed with dealers, involves staff surveys to get a pulse on how employees work and how the command chain functions, and then regular meetings with "coaches" — Ford uses two or three companies that offer life-coach type services. The coaches convene in Dearborn three times a year to share what they've learned. Said Ford, "If you have happy employees -- happy customers."

She said that to create the program Ford asked retailers around the world what brands beyond automotive offered great customer service. Apple, Disney, Zappos, Melia, Emirates, Porto Seguro and Ritz-Carlton were examples of companies dealers held in high regard vis-a-vis fulfilling customer expectation.

Ron Loveys, chairman of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, said the results have been strong with staff turnover at only 7% for Canadian dealerships that have signed up for the CEM program versus 26% who have not.

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