Ford is expanding its range of remote services to save customers a trip to their dealer for things like oil changes and recall repairs. The updated program promises that more Ford owners across the country will be able to access free pick-up and delivery of their vehicles, as well as mobile repair options.
However, Ford mobile services do not operate from a central location. It is still up to the dealers to provide remote services and choose which services they want to deliver to the customer’s home or business. However, Ford is lending dealers a helping hand to get the services up and running. “We have worked with multiple teams at Ford to give our customers more ways to personalize vehicle service,” said Tim Hovik, president of the Ford National Dealer Council and owner of the dealership, in a press release.
Historically, dealer models have fragmented the purchase and service experience for customers, which can leave a good or bad impression on the manufacturer rather than the dealer.
However, some companies, such as Tesla, continue to disrupt dealer models. By avoiding dealerships, Tesla controls the buying and service experiences for its cars entirely in-house. The automaker is best known for its mobile technicians who can be booked in the app to come to customers’ driveways and do things like replace smelly air filters in Model 3 vehicles.
But Ford is trying to keep up with the times. In this week’s press release, Ford cites a JD Power customer service index study that concludes that customers with remote vehicle repair experiences are more likely to recommend their car brand. Last year it spun off its combustion car business from its electric offerings so it could better compete with Tesla with transparent pricing and online ordering.
Customers expect a modern online car buying experience with an intuitive mobile app that supports them, starting from a baseline established by Tesla. That’s where Ford has an opportunity, as dealers playing ball can send trained technicians for “light repairs and routine maintenance,” saving customers time and improving their owner experience.
In practice, however, Ford’s online and mobile service offerings live and die at the dealership. With FordPass, the automaker’s kind of all-encompassing smartphone app, customers can do things like remotely view their car’s status, get support and recommendations, and book service appointments. At the time of writing, I tried to book an appointment for my Ford Focus EV through the app, but couldn’t find any dealers that offered mobile service (I am a member of FordPass Rewards, at). In fact, the dealer I bought the car from did not support bookings through the app.