Customer Service — the KISS principle in practice

More quotes from Frederiek Toney, Ford corporate VP, at the Distinguished Speaker Event on 21st November 2013:

Henry Ford built his company upon one belief: “Open the highways to all mankind.”

So, how to run a company like Ford on Earth today?  Changing the approach to management methods: regional vs. multinational vs. global — the old fiefdoms vs. today’s centralised decisionmaking implemented in 2006 at headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, realising at the same time that business is no longer U.S.-centric…

  • profits consolidated,
  • high economies of scale (leverage procurement, lower total cost),
  • better operating efficiency (avoid duplication, seek simplification),
  • reduced complexity (design/build once).

Trust and transparency supported by the business environment, changes of leadership — new CEO in 2006, Alan Mulally from Boeing, who chose to maximise the most from the existing executive team at Ford rather than replacing all of them.

Unchanging principles:

  • One Ford Better Plan — One Team, One Plan, One Goal

Improve the balance sheet — took $34B loan before economy collapsed, didn’t depend on government bailout — in 3Q ’13, 17th consecutive quarter of profitability, 14th consecutive quarter of positive cash flow

“Competing to leading…” — Four Pillars of Global Product Strategy: Quality, Green, Safe, Smart

Changed Ford’s organisational structure from silo-based fiefdoms to a matrix-based system, business units intersecting skill teams.

Recipe for Global Success

  • Cultures — respect and work across cultures
  • Time zones — open for global business 24/7
  • Weekly reviews — “data will set you free”; facts, not emotions
  • Global special attention reviews — “cannot manage a secret”
  • Sharing best practices — compensation based on global results
  • Team spirit — crossregional/functional cooperation
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Hard and rewarding work

Two models — mass market (Ford) and luxury (Lincoln)

Consumer Experience Movement — customer taken care of by dealer who is taken care of by Ford

Lessons learned

  • “Must be present to win”
  • Good ideas come from anywhere
  • Consistent and constant communication
  • Global team members help each other when objects are aligned

Formula for success

  • Geographical region shift + consumer preference shift + One Ford = profitable growth

What is the secret to effective leadership? Being a great delegator, knowing all the employees in your organisation are aligned to the same principles on which you base your delegation decisions, with diversity in thinking.

What makes Ford a great place to stay? Incumbent on company to attract, train and retain employees; in other words, if you see someone mistreated, you think it will be you next, too.

What happened to Ford’s famously bad relationship with suppliers/vendors?  Went from worst to first in supplier trust/respect, rebooting the supply chain expectations and delivering upon them.

How do you increase Ford owner’s use of the Ford service department? Paying attention to the total value chain.  New slogan: Bring your Ford “back home!.  The old adage still applies: “Good service sells.”


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