Focus On

With this year’s Customer Engagement Transformation Conference just a few weeks away, we’ve decided to sit down with some of our world class industry speakers for a “Speaker in the Spotlight” interview to hear more about their role, responsibilities and what they are most looking forward to about the event. Today we are joined by Sarah Brettle, Director of Ford Customer Service Division, UK & Ireland at Ford…

Can you provide us with an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of your role?
I would describe my role as being responsible for delivering the Ford Service Brand promise to all of our customers, through our franchised partners across all areas of the automotive aftermarket.  This includes customers using our Authorised Repairer network for routine maintenance and repairs, as well as body shop businesses, ecommerce and accessories sales, plus I have an active interest in our PartsPlus wholesaling operation, who also act as parts delivery agents to some of dealer network.
What that means is no one day is the same, with such a broad remit of activity.  My team and I, supported by our European colleagues and the Ford global team, work to put the customer front and centre of all we do, in order to deliver an outstanding customer experience through trust, transparency and convenience.  That’s the ‘North Star’ I work to irrespective of any meeting I’m in.  Strong networks and relationships are key to delivering this – whether with my internal colleagues in other functions, my own team, as well as with the Dealer network. Oh – and I have to make sure the UK and Ireland delivers on its parts revenue and profit targets!

How has Covid19 affected your contact centres and your workforce?
I am sure our story is no different from any other business in terms of our teams having to get used to a home-working environment, maintain the team dynamic, and deliver results.  But where there’s certainly been challenges is in the area of our contact centres.   Covid came at a time where our CX team (Customer Experience), headed by Elena Ford as part of a global function, really started to ramp up and much more resource has been put into these centres to make sure we Treat Customers Like Family.  What this means in reality is that case handling agents (1) may never driven or owned a Ford vehicle, (2) may never have been in a Ford dealership, and (3) probably have never met their manager.  And these teams often have to handle complex technical queries and issues on customers vehicles – so getting them up to speed and get them competently able to deliver that service was certainly a new one for us.  But with my teams continuous support, we made it happen.  There’s always room to improve, but our net promotor scores tell us we got more right than we got wrong in that period.

How has Covid affected your customer strategies?
We had to adapt, and quickly!  No spoilers, this is what I’m going to be focusing on in our case study.

Where do you feel customer loyalties now lie?
I think this is a moving feast.  Experience is what matters, and never more so than in the times we’ve gone through lately.  If you deliver on experience as well as value for money, customers are more likely to return to you, and more likely to recommend you to others.  However in the future, customer engagement is key, and with connected ‘digital’ vehicles, customers will be more engaged with our brand than ever before.  It’s a fast-paced evolution, and with our new connected vehicles, (such as the new Mustang Mach-E), we will be capitalising on this engagement.  We have to get it right, and when we do, that’s where the future loyalty will be driven from.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?
Listening to, and learning from others.  It doesn’t really matter what industry you’re in, many of the challenges and opportunities we face are the same, and hearing how others manage and make the most of these situations is so interesting to me.

Sarah will be joining us for a fireside chat at the Customer Engagement Transformation conference on Tuesday 8th June at 1:40pm – you can register your FREE ticket to the event and catch Sarah’s session live here

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