Customer Experience

FordPass Aims to Engage Customers on Their Terms

Ford on Monday announced FordPass, a platform focusing on enhancing the customer experience.

FordPass includes a Marketplace offering mobility services; 24×7 access to FordGuides, which are personal assistants to help customers with mobility challenges; membership loyalty rewards; and FordHubs — select stores that let customers experience Ford’s latest innovations.

Membership is free and open ownership of a Ford vehicle is not required.

Members will be able use a virtual wallet, FordPay, to pay for services accessed through FordPass.

“It’s all about the user experience,” remarked Roger Lanctot, a research director at Strategy Analytics. “It’s obviously a win-win if [FordPass] fits seamlessly into the Ford owner’s life.”

That’s what Ford is gunning for.

How well it will succeed remains to be seen, but “FordPass is going to be all about giving people a customized experience around the ownership of their car, possibly infused with their requirements,” Lanctot told CRM Buyer.

“It’s going to be about people’s personal needs as opposed to Apple’s CarPlay or Google, which is all about them,” Lanctot said.

FordPass will become available in the United States and Canada in April. Other markets will be added later this year. Users can access the program via smartphones, but Ford did not say whether it would be available for iOS, Android or both.

FordPass Features

Ford is partnering with ParkWhiz to help drivers find and pay for advance parking, and with FlightCar to help consumers borrow and share vehicles.

FordPass members will get merchandise and “unique experiences” as loyalty rewards through Ford’s partnerships with McDonald’s and 7-Eleven.

Owners of Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC Connect — a service similar to GM’s OnStar — will be able to use FordPass to remote start, lock and unlock their vehicles; check fuel, oil, battery charge levels and tire pressure remotely; and locate their vehicles.

FordPass members also will be able to speak with FordGuides for free. FordGuides will be on standby to help solve mobility challenges — not to sell.

Hanging Out at the FordHub

Customers will be able to explore Ford’s latest innovations at FordHubs — urban storefronts where they can learn about its mobility services and participate in exclusive events.

The first will open later this year at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York. Others will open in San Francisco, London and Shanghai.

Tomorrow’s Ford Today

FordPass is part of an overarching push by Ford into futuristic technologies.

Its strategy includes integration with Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service to connect Ford Sync-equipped vehicles to the smart home. That would let drivers issue voice commands through Amazon’s Echo speaker to access Internet-enabled lights, TVs, home security systems and garage doors.

Ford also is working to integrate the Wink smart home platform to connect Sync-equipped cars and smart home devices.

“Consumer engagement companies are trying to connect with consumers in multiple ways,” said Niranjan Manohar, a research program manager at Frost & Sullivan.

The value to Ford of enabling that engagement through the vehicle’s connected platform is phenomenal, Manohar told CRM Buyer. Direct interaction with the customer will help Ford “understand and gauge customer preferences and reduce several inefficiencies.”

It also will allow differentiation based on “varied metrics such as digital engagement, vehicle configurability, satisfaction and other associated services,” he said. Also, extending FordPass membership to non-Ford owners “will help [them] understand Ford’s associated services.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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