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Financial Health

Customer Satisfaction and Quality

Quality is one of the four pillars in our approach to great products: quality, safe, smart and green. Meeting our quality strategic priorities, including customer satisfaction with our products, is a central mission of all of our employees. Quality priorities are also central to our sales, service and vehicle financing operations, which affect customers’ satisfaction with vehicle purchase, service and financing experiences.

At Ford, improving quality is a daily activity. We have worked tirelessly to improve quality over the past decade, and we have made great strides in overall quality. We use an extensive Global Quality Operating System (GQOS) at every stage of vehicle development and manufacture to make sure that our vehicles meet or exceed customer expectations.

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 define the right features and content to include based on extensive customer research, and we validate that our vehicle designs and manufacturing processes will deliver vehicles that meet or exceed customer expectations. Our engineers use a suite of high-tech design tools and virtual manufacturing technology to detect and avoid potential issues. We also undertake extensive testing of vehicle prototypes to ensure customers will experience the highest level of quality in our products. We continue to evaluate and fix any quality problems that may arise after our vehicles are sold. We evaluate every customer claim, and use this information to develop and implement effective solutions. We also gather feedback from our customers using survey tools that track and evaluate our quality and customer satisfaction performance.

Despite these efforts, we had some quality and customer satisfaction issues in 2013. For example, we had 16 recalls in 2013. In the past several years, we have been dramatically increasing the innovative technologies in our vehicles, the number of new models we introduce, and the speed with which we release them. In addition, we are boosting production in the U.S. and other regions to match growing demand for our vehicles. All of these trends increase the pressure on both our own and our suppliers’ design, production and quality systems.

We have been working hard to rectify all quality and customer satisfaction problems and deliver on our promises to consumers. For example, we responded to customer complaints about the fuel economy of the 2013 C‑MAX Hybrid. Although we developed the fuel economy label for the C‑MAX Hybrid following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s labeling rules, we voluntarily changed the way we test and label the 2013 C‑MAX Hybrid’s fuel economy to better match performance and improve customer satisfaction. Because this voluntary step resulted in miles-per-gallon values different from the original C‑MAX Hybrid label, Ford is making a goodwill payment to current 2013 C‑MAX Hybrid owners for the estimated average fuel cost of the difference between the two labels, up to $550. We also recalibrated the powertrain software of the C‑MAX Hybrid to improve fuel economy performance. These modifications are being made at the dealership for 2013 C‑MAX Hybrids and are included in the factory setting for 2014 vehicles. And we made additional changes to the 2014 C‑MAX that will enhance the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, including improved transmission efficiency and aerodynamics.

We have worked hard to create a culture of cooperation and focus on solving any problems — not passing blame or pointing fingers — so that when quality issues arise, we can address them quickly and effectively. We strive to ensure that we learn from every quality issue so that our overall performance continues to improve. For example, although we know that introducing new products quickly is critical, we also have to take the time to make sure everything about new vehicles is just right before they go to market. 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 customer satisfaction and “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 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. Furthermore, 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.