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June 27, 2006 Raises The Stakes For Ford In The Company's Struggles With Sales

Ford recently launched a website that features documentary style video's of Ford's next steps in saving the company from its sales decline. The videos seek to reveal the inner workings of Ford. You can comment on the videos and articles at the website.

The site will feature 50 videos over the next year.

I have a few suggestions for the team:

Lose the flash pop-up, its useful for first time visitors, but got old fast the second time I went to the site. The 'Intro' link on the left hand navigation works just as well for encouraging people to click on the initial video that explains the purpose of the site.

I had problems registering for the login for the comment section on the website. A runtime error appeared a few times, fortunately, I am not faint of heart and tried logging back in. Once logged in however, the comment system was a little confusing to use, the login was floating on the page while the comment box is located at the bottom of the page. I did manage to post a comment on an article about buying American, but no comment appears. Hopefully comments are moderated and mine will appear in the next few hours or day.

It would be great if the would let the user know if comments are moderated. I looked through the legal terms and conditions, but did not see Ford's policy on answering comments.

I've previously posted an article about the synthetic transparency of the General Motors Fastlane blog. In that post I suggest to General Motors their blog inform readers clearly that comments will not be automatically returned when a reader comments. Rather, GM has posted a few articles informing readers their comments may not be answered in the future. I chatted with several GM blog readers who told me their expectation as GM is running a blog, when the customer comments, GM will answer their comments. I'd suggest to Ford; that clearly setting expectations on your blog comment policy with customers will avoid blog reader disappointment.

The website represents a great opportunity for Ford to reveal its story to the buying public, it remains to be seen how Ford will react to customer comments and suggestions made on the website by Ford customers. If Ford is able to be proactive and respond to comments, whether positive or negative, I think the website will be a success. If not, I think the website will not help the company with their market share issues. Telling the truth is good, but if market share loss is due to a crisis in brand confidence with Ford, the way to bolster brand confidence is by listening and building the type of cars your customers seek. Listening doesn't just mean allowing comments in the online world, it also means interacting with customers to demonstrate how you will make a change, and sometimes why you cannot make a change requested.

I expect the Ford website to receive 100's if not thousands of comments, the resources needed to manage all of those comments will be a tremendous. Yet, answering the comments of a few hundred or thousand people will make a huge impact on how the company is perceived. That action alone will say we listen at Ford, and when people feel as if their opinions and comments are taken seriously, those people become not just customers, but part of your team.

Update: Bryce Hoffman from the Detroit News called me to comment on Ford's new website. Here's his article, "Behind the blue oval," thanks Bryce for the inspiration for this blog post.

Posted by johncass at June 27, 2006 4:47 PM

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» What is Ford Up To? from ChaosScenario
Recently, John Keehler posted on his RandomCulture blog about The Ford Bold Moves campaign, which incorporates video documentaries, expert commentary, and user talkback. In one of the sidebars, Ford uses a Yahoo! news engine to deliver what's happening... [Read More]

Tracked on June 29, 2006 4:30 PM


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