Ford’s SocialCRM – Follow up to Sync issues

Courtesy of lithium software ( Within 24 hrs of my Why I’ll never buy another Ford – The answer may surprise you post, Ford contacted me via Twitter, and arranged for a call with a small team; Mike from (Customer Service), Jeff (Ford engineer) and Alan (Public Relations). First, I want to tip my hat to them for taking the time to follow up with me. They obviously care about Ford, the company reputation and customer satisfaction.

What is clear to me, is that you can have the best SocialCRM solution in the world, but if you don’t have agile business processes behind it, you will ultimately disappoint your customers.

While I can go through a rather lengthy recall of the discussion, but instead I will instead try to summarize:

  1. They were amazed that I blame Ford and not Apple for the issue. As I noted, my iPod works fine everywhere else. (I acknowledge the arrogance of Apple, but still hold Ford accountable.)
  2. They agreed that accurate information about Sync was difficult to find.
  3. I still don’t have any kind of solution that will work (short of buying a new iPod that is capable of iOS4).
  4. I’ve been broken for 6+ months and the earliest that I see a “possible” fix is the end of 2010.  How can Apple release a fix in a week, but for Ford, it takes a year?
  5. They made many references to quality and complexity as a reason for the long lead time. Let’s be clear here, I’m talking about an Entertainment system. If this can’t be done independently of car safety, then I think perhaps I’m more concerned than before.

Now, what I am about to say is mere speculation, (I want to be clear that none of the Ford employees even suggested anything that I am about to say) but working for many large companies, I believe that I can safely go here on a more generic level.

What we have is a company that has an organization that is customer focused. Being customer focused is a good start, but it’s not enough. If you are rich with ineffective business processes, the best customer service group will be powerless to actually help customers. Committing to SocialCRM is not something that can be done in a silo. Your entire company must commit to being focused on the customer in order to deliver that satisfaction. In Ford’s case, there is a lot of focus on quality. Why does quality automatically imply slow?

I am also going to guess that during the time that Ford implemented their Quality is Job 1 campaign, many processes were formed that don’t work today. Let’s face it, who’s going to stand up and say, We don’t need to do that, when quality is in question?

I am hopeful that Ford continues to improve their products and processes, but as of today, I stand by my statement that I won’t buy another Ford.

4 thoughts on “Ford’s SocialCRM – Follow up to Sync issues

  1. I am totally with you about the process agility. Apart from that, your Ford example also teaches us about the complexity of integrating software platforms from different vendors. I think the compatibility problem has become so complex at times that it is impossible to solve.

    The success of Apple products shows that removing this complexity though a closed system avoids this trap. Other vendors trying to integrate with that ecosystem will have to deal with unforeseen changes due to the lack of a stable integration interface.

    But if companies decide to integrate with a closed platform nevertheless, they (in your case, Ford) also are responsible to quickly react to changes.

  2. I agree that complexity is a huge challenge. What the problem with Sync is that they tried to do too much, and in exchange, left them exposed to Apple’s ability to change the ground rules.

  3. I completely understand your frustration here. I JUST bought a Ford Fiesta (which I really like thus far) with Sync and was initially very excited that it worked so well with my mp3 player (a Creative Zen). This is our first Ford after a Saturn and a Rav4 (both of which where/are fine cars). I know people love their Apple products, but the Zen has worked very well for me and I’m happy with it. Unfortunately, I quickly became very unhappy when I determined that the Audible audiobook content is not recognized through the usb port in the sync system. Yes, I can (and do) use the AUX port to get the sound out of the mp3 player into the car and yes that is MUCH better than a cassette adapter or a silly FM transmitter, but the loss of integration and the ability to charge the player while I drive stinks.

    All of this to say that I doubt this is solely or even largely about Ford/MS or Apple (or Creative). The problem is with Audible. My guess here (and it’s a guess, but I think it’s the right one) is that because the Sync system (software operating from an on-board computer located in the car that hasn’t been “activated” by Audible) is trying to read and play the file from the hard drive of the player, the content remains locked and invisible to the Sync software. Without DRM (or apparently even with itunes DRM) the Sync system is fine with MANY devices. But with Audible content, the computer running Sync has not been authorized to play the encrypted file. And because locking down their content is and always has been Audible’s game, and until Ford/MS can work out something with Audible to allow a mechanism for activating the computer on the car, the content is not going to play through any player.

    Once I realized that my Zen wouldn’t work, rather than beat that dead horse I asked whether or not ANY audible-compatible mp3 player would work with Sync. After a couple days of pumping 3 or 4 word search terms into Google in these final days of August 2010, I’m left with the conclusion that there don’t appear to be ANY compatible players. If there are and someone knows what they are, please respond with the details here. I’ll check back and would appreciate the info.

    From what I’ve been able to put together from postings by people who’ve tried the Apple iOS4 with Sync, it’s still been a no go. If that’s not the case, then I’d love to get the details and I’ll probably become an ipod guy, too.

    I don’t work for a big company, so I don’t really know what forces are at work here. Maybe Audible is looking for some licensing fee that Ford won’t pay and they don’t spill any info because they don’t want to alienate buyers. Again, because the content plays on the Audible compatible devices, I don’t see this as their problem. And the fact that the interface between the Sync and a whole host of MP3 players works with unprotected files tells me that Ford/MS got it right from that stand point.

    The problem is Audible. If you search the web, nearly everyone is happy with their Sync/MP3 Player connection. It’s the Sync/MP3 player/Audible connection that sucks.

    Thanks for posting this rant. I look forward to other opinions and constructive comments.

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