Ford’s Focus On The Customer Drives Higher Satisfaction Scores
DEARBORN, Mich. – According to J.D. Power and Associates, the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands improved in its 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, the industry’s top study measuring customer satisfaction in design, content, and vehicle performance.
Results from the study show the Ford brand improving by 17 points and moving up six rank positions among nameplates from last year. The Lincoln brand improved by 18 points and climbed two spots in the survey from a year ago. Mercury improved by eight points and Volvo’s score increased by two points.
The Ford Flex and F-150, both segment leaders, scored better than the segment average in every category, performing especially well in fuel efficiency and exterior styling. Ford’s new F-150 improved 52 points from last year and scored 16 points better than all redesigned trucks in this survey.
“Ford’s quality rankings continue to climb consistently year after year and we intend to keep the momentum going to become the best in the industry,” said Bennie Fowler, group vice president, Global Quality. “To do so, we’re raising the stakes and redefining what it means to deliver a quality product by giving consumers more than just defect-free cars and trucks; we’re exceeding their expectations with features they would expect to find only in high-priced luxury lines.”
APEAL asks customers what they like about the performance, execution and layout of their new vehicle after the first three months it is in service. Customer’s rate their level of “gratification” on a variety of vehicle attributes, including safety, fuel economy, cargo space and roominess, exterior styling and price.
“At Ford, we are accelerating the development of vehicles customers will fall in love with at first sight and grow even fonder of over time,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “To deliver on that promise, our goal is nothing less than product excellence in design, feature content, safety and quality--all at an exceptional value.”
Since “gratification” is difficult to define and even harder to measure, Ford looked for new ways to understand how customers define it. Researchers combed through surveys, looked at historical trends and studied customer satisfaction rates. They spoke with people who recommended Ford to their friends, and to those who dismissed the brand out of hand. By discovering what makes customers feel good about their cars, Ford was able to develop a unique set of criteria that came to be known as product DNA.
This strict set of guidelines is designed and built into every vehicle for a consistent feel and sound that is unmistakably Ford. Every Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicle, from sub compact cars to full size crossovers, is designed to evoke a positive emotional response from its owner.
This “emotional engineering”, which focuses on the senses of sight, sound and touch, is helping Ford deliver vehicles that are satisfying to own and drive.
To ensure the company’s quality criteria are met, Ford formed a Global Craftsmanship team of engineers who examine how harmoniously the vehicle is put together. Like assembling a puzzle, the team analyzes every inch of the vehicle to check for gaps, mismatches or inconsistencies of all of the parts individually and as a whole.
Their work is divided into four interior and exterior vehicle review categories: visual quality; touch and feel quality; sound quality, and illumination harmony. Creating harmony across all of the systems and subsystems, inside and out, helps Ford deliver a positive emotional experience for its customers.
To add structure to its DNA strategy and increase customer satisfaction, Ford put its quality criteria into three categories:
* Basic quality – the fundamental reliability of a vehicle.
* Performance quality – includes attributes such as fuel economy and quietness that usually fall into the “more is better” category.
* Excitement quality – those unexpected convenience features that surprise and delight the customers.
While continuing to improve on basic quality and performance quality, Ford has increased its focus on excitement quality – the parts of the vehicle that surprise and delight. Excitement quality includes features ranging from seats specially designed for comfort, materials and surfaces that look good and feel right, interiors with ambiance and paint that flows like liquid across the vehicle’s surface.
“When applying the three categories, it’s never about either/or; it’s all three,” said Kuzak. “We’re still consumed with basic quality, but we’re now also very focused on providing appeal and excitement.”
Creature comforts, such as SYNC, Multi-Contoured massaging seats, changeable ambient interior lighting, refined sound quality in addition to good fuel economy, elegance, style, durability and quality craftsmanship, all come together to complete the ownership experience. Ford continues to improve that experience in all categories in all brands, as it seeks to become the global quality leader.
About Ford Motor Company’s Quality
Ford has made significant strides in reducing defects. Earlier this year, the Ford brand was among the top 10 brands in the industry in J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS). In RDA Group’s Global Quality Research System (GQRS), which measures vehicle satisfaction in the first three months of ownership, Ford surpassed Honda and is tied with Toyota. The Ford brand has also posted strong results in long-term durability in addition to receiving far more “Recommended Buys” (70 percent) than its domestic competition, according to Consumer Reports 2009 Annual Auto.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 205,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
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