Ford Dangles Rewards Program to Lure Customers Back to Dealers

(Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is launching a airline-type loyalty program aimed at improving customer satisfaction and luring buyers back to the dealership to have their vehicles serviced.

The rewards program debuted Wednesday on the FordPass app that more than 1 million of the automaker’s vehicle owners already use. Buyers of Ford autos since April 1 receive three free maintenance visits to their dealer and earn additional reward points on every trip to the service bay. It’s part of a doubling of expenditures Ford is making on customer service, the company said, without specifying how much it’s spending.

Two-thirds of Ford owners don’t return to the dealer to have their car maintained, mirroring an industrywide trend of new-vehicle customers avoiding dealers’ service departments because they see them as expensive and inconvenient, Frederiek Toney, president of the automaker’s customer-service division, told reporters during a briefing Wednesday.

Ford consulted with customer-service leaders, including Apple Inc., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Marriott International Inc., to develop the rewards program and create faster and more convenient service operations for its owners. The points earned on FordPass Rewards can also be used to get discounts on new cars.

“One of the biggest drivers of customer experience is: reward my loyalty,” said Elena Ford, chief customer experience officer and great-great granddaughter of founder Henry Ford. “The whole point of building a loyalty program is to bring the customers back and keep them in the Ford family.”

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