DETROIT — Ford and Lincoln service centers are putting customers’ vehicle information where service advisors can best use it — at their fingertips.
Ford is expanding the SMART Technology program that launched in early 2014. The program integrates tablets and software into the company’s dealer management system.
Last year, the company introduced SMARTT Appointments to give customers an online-based tool to schedule service appointments with Ford and Lincoln service centers. With the appointment tool, customers can select the services they need in advance, thus speeding up the write-up process before they arrive. In its first year, online appointment volumes tripled.
SMARTT is launching two additional phases in March, using mobile technology to further enhance customer greeting, write-up and vehicle servicing processes:
* SMARTT Mobile Write-Up, phase two, puts tablets in the hands of advisors in dealership service lanes to help provide a more seamless service experience
* SMARTT Inspect, phase three, allows technicians and parts department personnel to access the tablet-entered information to obtain vehicle service history and more efficiently fulfill service orders
“This evolution of the SMARTT program represents a glimpse at the Ford and Lincoln service experience of the future,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president for North and South America. “Using technology to help us reshape the customer service experience is just one example of how we are driving innovation through every part of our business.”
The new technology aims to make the vehicle service process more efficient and personally engaging for customers.
“We envision an experience built on trust, transparency and personal treatment, and SMARTT helps us achieve that,” said Frederiek Toney, vice president of Ford’s customer service division.
With SMARTT Mobile Write-Up, Ford and Lincoln service advisors have the flexibility to work with customers on their terms. Service personnel can greet customers and start or complete the write-up process right from the vehicle — which Ford says will act to break down barriers while building trust and strengthening the dealer-customer relationship.
This tool offers an easy-to-use service menu that includes the most common service requests, as well as vehicle history, open recall notices and pricing.
It also makes vehicle inspections and walk-around processes more efficient, giving service advisors the ability to scan a vehicle’s VIN, take pictures of areas in need of repair, and attach notes and customer comments.
SMARTT Inspect then relays that information to automate and enhance communication within the service department. Once a service advisor creates a repair order, it is assigned to a technician who can use a tablet or PC to complete a complimentary, thorough vehicle inspection. The technician can then record all outcomes of the inspection and suggest necessary additional services, and that data is accessible via the tablet for service advisors to share with customers.
“The new phases of SMARTT are strong examples of how Ford is using technology not for technology’s sake, but to truly make a difference in our customers’ lives,” Toney said.
SMARTT Appointments, available at 800 Ford and Lincoln dealers in 49 states, is powered by CDK Global and Reynolds & Reynolds. SMARTT Mobile Write-Up and Inspect, available in the United States, is powered by CDK Global for CDK Ford and Lincoln dealers. The Reynolds deployment of SMARTT Mobile Write-Up and Inspect will be the subject of a future announcement.