Ford is ramping up its remote service offerings to save customers a trip to their dealership for things like oil changes and recall repairs. The updated program promises that more Ford owners nationwide can get access to complimentary pickup and delivery of their vehicles, as well as mobile repair options.
Mobile services from Ford won’t operate from a central location, though. It will still be up to dealerships to offer remote services and to choose what services to provide at a customer’s home or business. Ford is, however, lending dealers a hand to get the services up and running. “We’ve been working with multiple teams at Ford to offer our customers more ways to personalize vehicle service,” stated Ford National Dealer Council chairman and dealership owner Tim Hovik in a press release.
Historically, dealership models have fragmented the vehicle purchasing and service experience for customers, which can leave the impression — good or bad — on the manufacturer instead of the dealer.
Some companies like Tesla, however, continue to disrupt dealership models. By eschewing dealerships, Tesla controls the purchasing and service experiences for its cars entirely in-house. The automaker is particularly known for its mobile techs that can be booked in-app to come to customers’ driveways and do things like replace smelly air filters in Model 3 vehicles.
But Ford is attempting to catch up to the times. In this week’s press release, Ford cites a JD Power customer service index study that concludes customers with remote experiences for vehicle repair are more likely to recommend their car brand. Last year, it split its combustion car business from its electric offerings so that it could better compete with Tesla with transparent pricing and online ordering.
Customers are expecting a modern online car purchasing experience with an intuitive mobile app that supports them, working off a baseline set by Tesla. That’s where Ford has an opportunity because dealerships that play ball can send out trained technicians for “light repairs and routine maintenance,” saving customers time and improving their ownership experience.
In practice, Ford’s online and mobile service offerings still live and die by the dealership though. FordPass, the automaker’s sort of catch-all smartphone app, lets customers do things like remotely see their car’s status, get support and recommendations, and book service appointments. At time of writing, I attempted to book an appointment for my Ford Focus EV on the app, but I couldn’t find any dealerships that offered mobile service (I’m a FordPass rewards member, too). In fact, the dealership I purchased the car from did not support booking anything through the app.