If you’ve bought a new car over the last several years, chances are it’s been a challenge trying to learn all the new features, whether pairing a cellphone, using voice commands to program in a destination or setting up one of the new safety systems such as active cruise control.
Now, add the fact that dealers often have a hard time explaining the latest technology and you can understand why high-tech features have become the single-biggest source of complaints about today’s new vehicles, according to surveys by J.D. Power and Associates and other third-party researchers.
That’s prompted Ford Motor Co. to launch a new service designed to help familiarize customers with the numerous features on their vehicles – something the maker has dubbed “video snacks.” The idea is to give a new owner a place to go to check out short, online videos that allow them to review or learn about such features as MyFordTouch, remote start or blind-spot mirrors.
“Now more than ever before our vehicles are equipped with a variety of advanced technologies designed to make life better for drivers, but we know that just because a cool feature is available doesn’t necessarily mean it is being recognized or used by the consumer,” said Andrew Ashman, the Consumer Experience Manager for both the Ford and Lincoln brands.
“Our goal,” he adds, “is to simplify and enhance the sales experience by providing customers with the resources they need when they need them so that they can fully enjoy all the benefits their vehicle has to offer them.”
Rather than simply wait until a confused customer turns to the Web – Ford is taking a proactive approach. After the dealer provides the usual familiarization session and a buyer heads home with their new car, they’ll receive an e-mail that lists the various features they should know about. The owner then can click a link to brief videos touching on each system or service.
Ford is also posting the video snacks on its Youtube channel.
“Making sure our customers have the best possible experience owning their vehicle is our ultimate goal,” said Ashman.
There’s a good reason for Ford to try to reach out to its customers. With technologies such as Sync and MyFordTouch, the Detroit maker has tried to position itself as a leader in onboard automation. On the plus side, Ford claimed that has generated significant new sales, especially among digitally oriented Millennial and Gen-X buyers.
But there’s also been a downside. The number two domestic maker has taken some serious hits in recent quality and customer satisfaction surveys which, according to J.D. Power analyst Dave Sargent, has a lot to do with the challenges of learning how to operate all those new, high-tech features.
Last year, in fact, Ford rushed out special software upgrades for both the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch systems designed to make the systems easier and quicker to operate.
With the video snacks, Ford is apparently hoping to keep those new technologies from becoming the modern automotive equivalent of those old VCRs, their clocks endlessly blinking because owners didn’t know how to program in the right time.