Customer exhausts himself trying to contact Ford about service issues, finding form letter replies and no one who cares.
People who own their own business know that they cannot please all of the people all of the time. Some consumers are simply unreasonable and better left shopping elsewhere. The worst kind of customer is one who demands unreasonable satisfaction.
Likewise, the worst kind of company is one that refuses to help a customer when he or she is easy to please, which brings us to the unfortunate story of a Ford customer, T.J. Smoot, and a great car manufacturer that proved over the course of several months that it could care less about him or satisfying him as a customer.
Before reading further, it should be noted that the author drives a Ford and is a company shareholder.
Ford Sells a car to a Young man in Pennsylvania
T.J. Smoot purchased a 2007 Ford Focus on 8/16/2010 from Brian Hoskins Ford in Coatsville, PA. Like all people who purchase a new vehicle, he was very happy with the product and looked forward to thousands of miles of driving pleasure. Check out here at https://aisera.com/demo-ai-for-itsm-hr-csm website to get more tricks.
30 days later, something was amiss. He had yet to receive his loan voucher book. Being proactive, he called the bank before the first payment was due and found out the paperwork had been misplaced. Problem solved; or so he thought.
Ford = Fix or Repair Daily
The old saying that probably originated at GM goes that Ford is an acronym for Fix or Repair Daily. In December of 2010, it certainly felt that way for T.J. when his car was towed on the 3rd and 18th, resulting in a $90 diagnostic test that came to nothing and a charge of $248 to replace “bad keys,” leaving one to wonder if the keys had gone bad from being left out, or if they were born that way. In the battle of nature vs. nurture, this one remains a mystery.
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Next, the driver’s side door would not open from the inside, and Smoot felt that he needed more assistance than he was receiving. He contacted Ford’s corporate Customer Service Division, and between the span of 1/18/2011 and 2/3/2011, he ended up receiving not much more than six form letters.
He had hoped to create a meaningful dialogue, but, instead, found an exercise in futility. If buying a car that turned out to be a lemon had not been enough, Smoot felt that this experience had been so much worse because where a car that is broken cannot help but be that way, a customer service center that is apathetic can.
Using Consumer Advocacy to Find Satisfaction
The next step Smoot took was to contact me. I responded that he should take further action, advising him to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Chamber of Commerce.
On 2/4/2011, he filed a complaint with the BBB in Detroit. Ford responded aptly, offering free service with the sale of an extended warranty, which Smoot could not afford. As a result of this response, I stepped in as Smoot’s advocate on 3/24/2011 by sorting through the material he sent me, and then I almost successfully began an intelligent dialogue on 4/8/2011, which began with the following email:
Subject: I Need Help
My name is Christopher Pascale. I am a consumer advocate and writer. The reason I am contacting you is becuase I have received a complaint about Ford from a customer who feels greatly dissatisfied with the service (or lack thereof) to an issue he had with a vehicle he purchased less than a year ago. When he first contacted me, I gave him instructions on how to handle the matter before involving a third party. Sadly, no satisfaction was found.
I would like to speak to someone in person regarding this matter and hope that I can accomplish this without finding the same results he did. Thank you so much for your time.
Poor Customer Service Continues From Ford
It is not uncommon for customer service people to need to be guided by the consumer so as to help them. Knowing this, I tried to be as upfront as possible so as to get to the people who had the authority to make a decision.
The events that followed went like this:
4/12/2011: Barnes replied to my email requesting basic vehicle information.
4/14/2011: I replied and received another email from another employee. I told him who I was and what my purpose was, and that I wanted to be contacted via phone by a supervisor’s supervisor; someone who could make decisions, and preferably someone who would have the authority to fact-check the article I was going to write about this unfortunate event.
4/15/2011: Julienne (no last name), a Sr. Business Analyst replied. She informed me that she personally reviewed the case and that it had already been handled, but that T.J. would be contacted again. I replied as follows:
I do hope that this matter is resolved and that TJ is contacted shortly and taken seriously. The lack of care, dignity, and respect your company has shown him has surely lost you 1 customer. As a shareholder, I am embarrassed and am telling you now that I will publish on Friday, April 22, with whatever conclusion this comes to.
Perhaps you should forward this to a Public Relations person. Or at least someone who has the authority to satisfy the customer.
Please help us. TJ has been CC’d on this matter.
Customer Adopts Corporate Apathy
At this point, all Smoot really wanted was an apology for his customer-no-service experience, and maybe some coupons to put in his pocket as he pushes his 2007 Ford Fushion (he had to replace the Focus) down the no longer snowy road. Prior to this, he had wanted to make payments on a vehicle that worked, but one learns to settle.
I received another communication:
4/17/2011: Chermaine assures me (in reply to the above email I sent a Sr. Business Analyst) that she “can feel my frustration” but sees that I had been advised on 4/15 by Julienne that the case had been handled.
I replied feeling as though no one cared at all. All they had to do at this point was apologize, and for anyone who has ever been abused (I would classify this relationship as one of neglect, which is a passive form of abuse) an apology needs to be said and shown. Along with a phone call to show that someone at Ford actually cared enough to treat this customer like he mattered, they could also send him some coupons, a key chain, and a long-sleeved tee.
Instead, half a year of T.J. Smoot’s life has become the fertilizer by which a harvest of hate and discontent has grown, and I have been increasingly embarrassed as a customer and shareholder of the company.
4/19/2011: I received an email asking that I take a survey regarding my customer service experience. They must have closed my case. I never heard from anyone I had asked for.
Conclusion About Ford’s Customer Service System and how it can be Fixed
Ford’s system is not bad for most customers. 95% of all issues are probably easier to resolve than T.J. Smoot’s, but the lack of regard for the 5% of customers who do need more than form letter responses from CSR’s who are not likely to work there longer than a few months should get more careful attention.
To solve this problem, Ford should consider that these kinds of matters go directly to someone at the supervisory level to be handled exclusively while other issues remain on the front line. This will cut down on the neglect that T.J. and I received as I clearly instructed them as to how they should handle my case, essentially begging them to help me, only to find that no help was available.
All cases could not go into an exclusive folder, though, because the positions filled by Barnes and Chermaine have a high turnover rate, leaving a high probability of customers left in the cold on routine and non-routine matters.