Sustainability 2011/12

Financial Health

Customer Satisfaction and Quality

Quality and customer satisfaction together are a central mission of all of our employees, and Ford has worked hard to improve quality over the past decade. Delivering high-quality vehicles is of paramount importance to customers’ willingness to consider our vehicles; it also affects their satisfaction and loyalty. Quality is also important to our costs, as high-quality vehicles have lower warranty repair costs.

We include quality as one of the four design principles that guide the entire design and manufacturing process for our vehicles. It is also central to our sales and service operations. As part of our efforts to improve quality, we have built three key kinds of quality into the brand DNA of all our vehicles: basic quality, or the fundamental reliability of the vehicle; performance quality, which includes attributes such as fuel economy and quietness; and excitement quality, or those unexpected convenience features that surprise and delight customers.

We use an extensive Global Quality Operating System at every stage of vehicle development and manufacture, to make sure that our vehicles have world-class quality and performance. We begin designing for quality from the very earliest stages of every vehicle program. Years before a new model rolls off the assembly line, we are already identifying and addressing potential quality problems through virtual manufacturing technology. We undertake extensive testing of actual vehicle prototypes for both manufacturing and performance quality. We continue to evaluate and fix quality problems after our vehicles are sold. We evaluate every manufacturing-related warranty claim and migrate effective solutions into the assembly plant. We also gather feedback from our customers using survey tools, to ensure that we understand customers’ problems with our vehicles, including actual product failures and customers’ opinions of vehicle designs and features.

If quality problems do arise, we respond promptly to address them. We have made significant strides over the past few years by listening, learning and quickly responding to what our customers tell us. MyFord Touch™, for example, is highly popular and well received by customers – more than 50 percent of buyers said that this technology was an important factor in their purchase decisions. However, some customers felt that some features of MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch did not work properly. Based on this feedback, we promptly developed and recently issued a software upgrade to improve the systems with even faster touchscreen response, better voice recognition and easier-to-read graphics. The upgrade is available to existing customers free of charge and will launch on all 2013 model year vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch.

We track our progress on quality through a combination of internal and external measurements that assess how we are doing and where we can improve. The Global Quality Research System (GQRS), which tracks “things gone wrong,” is our primary quality survey.1 It is implemented for us by the RDA Group, a market research and consulting firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. We also subscribe to J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Survey and APEAL study. And, we track warranty claims and costs internally. Global and regional quality improvements are detailed in this section.

  1. The GQRS study is conducted quarterly, with scores assessed from survey responses collected from vehicle owners by the RDA Group, a consulting firm.