Buying a car and maintaining are completely different parameters. Everybody around you will render a completely different perspective towards after sales services and maintenance pricing even for bang-on same vehicle models. A brilliant car can become utterly a pain if maintenance costs shoot up high more than perceived customer expectations. Ford India is on a mission to empower its customers when it comes to service and support. The obvious step for a manufacturer here is to increase the number of customer touch-points across the country, but the company edges forward by introducing transparency to service costs and schedules. In a conversation with N Prabhu, Vice President, Customer Service, Ford India, we get a glimpse on how strongly the company wants to retain its customers and apparently make new ones.
“Our objective is to provide every detail of the car in the hands of the customer. Log on to Ford India website, enter car information like age and mileage, and a specialised tool (Service Cost Calculator) will help calculate the estimated service costs. Very soon we will have a mobile application for added convenience” says N Prabhu. Ford Service Promise will enable customers of Ford vehicles to be completely aware of the service cost they need to shell out before entering the service centre.
One critical theory Ford India is adopting to keep costs low is repairs than replacement. “What is the need for a customer to replace, for example, a complete door if only the outer module is damaged? We at Ford believe in making repairs at sub-assembly levels rather than completely replacing the entire module thus bringing costs considerably low” adds N Prabhu. Minor crashes often happen, but mostly they affect the outer shell of the car. The internal assembly of the affected part usually works fine but service centres will have you replace the entire module, be it a door, or a bumper. This calls in for elevated costs that could have been easily brought down by the manufacturer by performing sub-assembly repairs. Customers not wishing to incur these costs mostly resorted to an unauthorised mechanic to get those repairs done, and let’s be honest, not very well. But luckily now this problem gets solved if as a manufacturer like Ford India assures reasonable repairs done at its authorised dealerships.
Another widespread problem that every manufacturer suffers is the sale of spurious parts through local spare shops. It is a generally held belief that local parts cost less and more or less perform the same tasks in a vehicle as a genuine part. N Prabhu adds, “That it is not at all true and the use of spurious parts compromises safety. Genuine parts at an authorised dealer cost as much as a locally produced part fitted by a roadside mechanic. Then why the urge to risk safety in one’s vehicle as opposed to a genuine spare”.
And if it is a question of available touch-points, Ford India claims it has more than 270 workshops spread across Tier I, II and III cities with new ones coming up as quickly as the company can create them. “We are committed to the Indian market and will keep enriching customer’s after sales experience. Our customer retention towards authorised dealerships is already about the highest in India, which we hope to increase in the coming years”, says N Prabhu. Ford customers can rest assured that service costs is a function that they may view and select at their convenience, take a printout of the findings and bring it to the service centre for cross referencing.