Building a Texas-Sized Call Center Model for our Customers
One of our goals at Ford Motor Company over the last year has been to put customers at the center of every decision we make. We’ve always built great cars and trucks, and now we’re asking ourselves how we can provide a better experience for our customers at each touchpoint along their ownership journey.
With five million customers calling our global contact centers each year, that was one of the first places we looked at to make improvements. From surveys, we knew that people wanted a more personalized call center experience and that they didn’t like being handed off from one agent to another to get their question answered or issue resolved. We challenged ourselves to do better.
In May 2019, we opened an all-new facility in Houston, Texas and introduced a new model – ‘Own the Contact’ – designed to serve as a blueprint for Ford call centers globally. Located in the heart of the world’s largest truck market, the center was established to first assist our millions of F-series customers, including commercial trucks that are the lifeblood of so many businesses.
The ‘Own the Contact’ model eliminates the need for multiple transfers, allowing one agent to work with the customer from start to finish and build a relationship with them. The agent is empowered to do whatever is reasonably necessary to get an issue resolved quickly, like working with a dealer on technical support or parts availability on behalf of the customer and keeping them informed along the way.Technology is critical to the success of this new model and allows agents to provide a seamless experience to the customer throughout the process.
Previously, each of our contact centers operated independently, with their own processes, technology and KPIs, with some concerns handled by several different agents. The technology was outdated and didn’t offer the flexibility to communicate with customers in new ways, across platforms. We tasked the Houston project team to develop one centralized technology architecture that would give our customers a convenient, digital-first experience and work with each individual component, like telephony and case tracking, aligning with Ford’s own IT environment – a key consideration given we’re a company of over 190,000 employees and 10,000 dealers.
"The real measure of our success as a company is keeping customers’ happy and loyal over time, and that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do with this investment in our call centers"
From the beginning, this was a partnership between Ford’s IT and Customer Experience teams. They had to work closely together to build a cohesive solution from the ground up, including a new technology system, a new contact center model, a new physical location and hire and train an entirely new team of 500 agents. This is a great example of the customer-first, collaborative and agile team approach that is transforming the way Ford works in all areas of our business.
The early results coming out of Houston are very encouraging. We ended 2019 with a 42 percent improvement in Net Promoter Scores for our U.S. truck customers. This quarter, the Houston center will be expanded to serve SUV and car customers and we’re opening two new call centers in Europe leveraging this new technology.
The real measure of our success as a company is keeping customers’ happy and loyal over time, and that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do with this investment in our call centers.