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How Ford Retail realised its moment of truth

How Ford Retail realised its moment of truth


If it was possible for companies to bottle those magic moments when they make a customer happy, or land a sale, you can rest assured they would.

UK car dealership Ford Retail recognised that a successful sale was, unsurprisingly, linked closely with a happy customer.

It was also realised that customer “happiness” wasn’t necessarily linked to one thing, such as a friendly salesman or an impressive product, but more often than not to a series of happy interactions – or moments of truth.

So in 2009, Ford Retail engaged Derbyshire customer service experts Customer Plus to design, brand and deliver a customer experience improvement programme to raise the bar of customer service standards across its 74 UK dealerships.


The challenge faced by Customer Plus to create a consistent approach and response across Ford Retail’s entire UK network was enormous.

It had to ensure that every staff member bought-in to the message that every single action they made, however small, could spark a “moment of truth”.

Customer Plus had to create a full awareness and understanding of the contribution a great customer experience made to the business success of Ford Retail. It had to develop a model which articulated the link between employee behaviour, customer experience and business outcomes. It had to design, brand and support a change programme which would become the norm.   

Strategy and Implementation

Moments of Truth is a £1.2m training programme. Customer Plus was keen to ensure that the size of the project did not mean it was over-complex, but that it retained very simple messages.

It initially set out a nine-step approach:

1.    Establish a simple and compelling customer service vision
This is where all parties agreed upon the Moments of Truth concept

2.    Identify model customer service behaviours
A survey of Ford Retail customers identified six key behaviours to follow: Be efficient; keep your promise; be helpful; be polite; make it personal; go the extra mile

3.    Create a brand identity
Ford Retail’s corporate colours and fonts were used to produce a brand concept

4.    Establish a steering committee to ensure progress and terms of reference

5.    Create a simple performance management and reward system
Customer Plus worked with Ford Retail to develop and manage the “Who Made The Moment?” scheme, where customers, colleagues and managers nominate staff who demonstrated the six key customer service behaviours

6.    Devise a customer experience workshop
The Moments of Truth workshop was piloted four times with a cross-section of employees in order to agree the final content. It was then piloted fully in the Yorkshire region, with branded letters, launch events, workshops and workbooks

7.    Appoint Champions of Change
Volunteer Champions of Change were sought from each branch to help drive the programme

8.    Roll-out of the Moments of Truth workshops to all staff in all regions
This has now been completed for all 2,800 staff

9.    Monitor and sustain progress
95% of employee evaluation forms rated the programme as “useful” or “very useful”. Further staff survey results indicate that Ford Retail is now a better organisation to work for.

The Moments of Truth 24 call back system, where customers are telephoned within 24 hours of visiting a branch, indicate a significant improvement in customer satisfaction compared with previous measurements.

As part of Moments of Truth, Customer Plus designed a 150-page workbook, which guides staff to achieving an NVQ level 2 in customer service or a Ford Retail Diploma.


Moments of Truth, was exceptional in that it was to engage every single one of the 2,800 frontline and backroom staff operating at all of the branches.

More than one year on, and still on-going, Ford Retail’s Moments of Truth campaign has recently been announced winner of the Customer Care category at the 20th annual Motor Trader Industry Awards – the motor industry’s flagship awards.

“Moments of Truth is one of the most significant initiatives Ford Retail has ever undertaken. Given the current state of the economy, Moments of Truth is more important than ever as customers become ever more demanding,” said customer relations director for Ford Retail, John Leathem.

“Customer service and value for money will be at the top of their agenda; this is how we will stand out from the competition.”

Customer Plus is still working closely with Ford Retail to develop further initiatives for sustaining the programme and including Moments of Truth as part of the induction training for all new employees.  
The award follows further recent successes for Ford Retail. In May 2010, the group joined the likes of Virgin Media and Santander in being awarded “training mark” accreditation by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), in recognition of Moments of Truth.

The same month, Ford Retail reported “a substantial profit increase” for the year ending December 31, 2009, turning a pre-tax loss of £0.85m the previous year into a pre-tax profit of £15.7m, despite the challenging economic conditions.

At the time, Ford Retail chairman and chief executive Chris Hayden singled out Moments of Truth for taking customer service “to new levels”.

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