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Ford Motor Company is an automobile and financial services company with a global presence as one of the pioneers in the industry. With the modern trends and ever-changing customer needs and desires, the company needs to reinvent its customer approach strategy. The strategic decision for the company is establishing a new customer intimacy strategy aimed at increasing sales, customer retention, and offering quality services to its buyers globally. The strategic decision heavily relies on engaging employees and other stakeholders as part of the project management.
The customer remains the principal focus of this decision. The project will need serious resource investment of both finance and personnel, and it will be rolled out yearly. After the end of every year, there will be a significant review of the extent of success apart from the short reports of every strategic meeting. Operationally, the action plan will use technology and shall involve customer service management, social networking, data integration, and rewarding employees, customer advisory boards, and customer meetups.
The automobile industry in the United States contains over 200 companies, but Ford Motor Company and General Motors have the major market share. Globally, the industry has several players with major giants coming from the US, Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, and China. Furthermore, the companies from these other countries also have their manufacturing facilities in the US. One of the major strategic decision of Ford Motor Company to compete well in the industry is the customer intimacy strategy. Ford believes in meeting the ever-changing business and customer demands by being innovative. The strategic decision requires its employees to come up with new insights and change them into best processes, services, and products. Many automobile customers will always look at the quality improvement and the entire lineup of an automaker.
The customer intimacy strategy for Ford Motor Company will enable it to have competitive advantages as one of the pioneering automobile makers. Through innovative ideas, the company can sustain its customer intimacy strategy and remain competitive. However, the strategic decision will have financial implications that will need a serious investment of over one million dollars in the startup year for the customers’ knowledge, ability to customize and customer service. The project management will consist of engagement of employees, involving supply chain partners, and provision of tools and support for the execution of the strategy. The operational aspects of customer intimacy shall affect customer service management, social networking, data integration, and rewarding employees, customer advisory boards, and customer meetups. All these elements will use information technology for implementation.
Ford Motor Company Overview
Henry Ford founded the company in 1903, and it operated as a family business for some time (Macdonald, 2017). Later, the company improved its line of production leading to its growth into one of the top global automobile makers. For a better part of the history of the company, it remained a dominant automobile manufacturer until the 21st Century when it underwent a decreased market share, and it was severely hard for the company to stay competitive. The company was especially inhabited by significant legacy costs such as pensions and other employee benefits as well as the fall in demand for its major lines of automobiles.
With a new Chief Executive Officer –Alan Mulally, in 2006, the company restructured its market approach to take it back on track (Kirkland, 2013). The company has over 200,000 employees across the world under its significant brands such as Mercury, Ford, Lincoln, and Volvo. However, the company deals with both automobiles and financial services. The company, however, is facing major strategic decisions in the modern market which is highly competitive globally.
Developing an Action Plan for Customer Intimacy Strategy
Customer intimacy involves measuring the awareness of the client and aligning the product and services towards their needs and values (Osei, 2017). The strategy is beyond just talking to customers. The workers of a company need to understand what the people they are serving need and desire. The approach has become popular in the technology era, and Ford Company will benefit from it if it is properly implemented. Today, sales and marketing strategies have become expensive than ever because buyers have a lot of power in the free market especially in the competitiveness of the automobile industry. Proper implementation of customer intimacy strategy enables a company to come on top of its competitors because of faster innovation and making of products and services that stick on the minds of the buyer.
Ford Motor Company will develop a customer intimacy strategic plan that will involve seven steps. The development plan will ensure the team is involved, the core of the action plan is listed, deadlines are set, designation of resources, the establishment of the measurement process and follow-up, communicating the plan and maintaining the project.
Involving the Team
Every successful strategy implementation succeeds when the whole team is involved in the processes leading to the strategy. Employees are capable of providing invaluable input on the stages needed to implement the plan succeed in meeting the objectives. Ford Motor will need to engage its employees on the best ways of achieving customer intimacy approach towards its products and services. The first hint for employee engagement when planning for customer intimacy strategy is to think holistically. According to Foudraine (2015), companies that engage and involve their staffers in the strategy-making process are likely to improve their performance than those who do not.
If the workers agree with a particular strategic decision, they assist in developing the strategy, and they become more willing to contribute in and become passionate about knowing the change process as argued by Tegarden et al. (2005). Ford Company will embrace the involvement of employees in making the strategic decision of customer intimacy because it is the employees who deal with the customers directly. Also, the strategy has been proven beneficial as argued by Kleinknecht (2015) that it will prevent the organization from taking excessive risks. Ford is keen on minimizing its financial risks while undertaking the new strategy of customer intimacy.
The second step of planning for customer intimacy strategy involves putting down a list of all the tasks required to achieve the objectives. It includes everything needed including financing to purchase the necessary equipment, employing staff with expertise on the different aspect of the strategy. Each action will be clearly described to avoid any confusion.
Every idea will have its deadline for achievement set.
Designation of Resources
The company will then assign different actions to various personnel. At this stage, there will be an allocation of resources needed to perform a specific operation. Resources required for implementing the strategic decision includes both the personnel and financial resources which are key pillars of strategic planning. Good management and designation of resources will enable the company to establish an organizational system. Proper management of resources involves drawing on available resources to produce results and outputs that reflect the effectiveness of the company (Bryson, 2018).
Establishing Measurement Process and Follow-Up
The company will spell out how the action plan will be measured and followed up to make sure the customer intimacy strategic decision. The company will ensure all the internal, and regular seminars carried out regarding the new plan’s progress. During this stage, the company will specify how the implementation of the action plan will be tracked as recommended by (Epstein, 2018). The track implementation for Ford Company will include a record of the milestones already achieved, for example, completed tasks, revenue collection changes, and market share ratings.
Communication of the Plan
The company will ensure the employees become aware of the action plan. Every person will have to understand his or her role in executing the strategic decision. The communication of the plan will be focused on the customer intimacy strategy. Also, the various stakeholders will be made aware of the new strategic decision which intends to make changes to the company. Stakeholders are an integral element of any company because they provide the much-needed resources and are also capable of controlling the flow of resources and interaction in the business networks thereby having a huge impact on the company survival (Heravi, Coffet, & Trigunarsyah, 2015). The company will keep its message simple and focused but with a deeper meaning. Also, the message communicated to the employees and stakeholders regarding the intended strategic decision will be based on the customer insights and the automotive market.
Keeping the Plan Alive
The last step of making the action plan for customer intimacy decision is to ensure the plan remains alive. The company will ensure discipline of sticking to the plan. Also, Ford Company will identify and hold employees responsible and accountable for failures. Every follow-up meeting will deliberate the company’s progress as far as the strategic decision is concerned. In doing so, the organization will continually revisit the plan and update it in case there are emerging issues which may hamper or enhance it. However, the Ford will not allow the action plan to be exceeded by new changes in the company because that would unravel the whole new customer intimacy strategy. After a year of kick-starting the implementation of the decision, the company will develop a new plan for customer intimacy for the next year. The new action plan will take note of the lessons learned from the customer intimacy strategy implementation in the first year.
Implementation of Customer Intimacy at Ford Motor Company
The Ford Motor Company seeks to continuously attract customers who are dealing in vehicles from other competing brands. The company intends to make its customers to buy its products because they are impressed with the quality and they appreciate the entire lineup of the company. The company seeks to be in the customers shopping list by offering quality and desirable products that the buyers can identify with. When a company serves its clients well, they will reply through coming back to buy more products hence raising its profits and revenue. The more the company will engage its suppliers, the more the suppliers provide essential inputs. Therefore, Ford Company will benefit from lower costs. The company will strengthen customer intimacy to ensure success in productivity.
Customer intimacy approaches find out the relationship between buyers and the brands which they identify with and love. A personalized customer experience benefits the organization due to customer loyalty, increased return on investment, and organic marketing. Maintaining customer intimacy enable Ford Company to attract customers and keep their evolving desires, needs, and issues. The company will employ various approaches and establish a multi-channel tactic to enhance its productivity. Some of the strategies designed for customer intimacy include the following.
Increasing Customer Touchpoints
Ford Motor Company operates in a digital marketing era where every brand strives to access their customers on a daily basis. The more business gets more chances to intermingle with the clients, the better because it increases its chances to make them buy its products and services. The company will consider both traditional and modern touchpoints to widen the scope of reaching its customers. Once these touchpoints are identified and appropriately utilized, the company will have an enhanced customer intimacy hence the success of the new strategic decision facing Ford Motor Company. Some of these touchpoints shall include, direct mail, sales papers, apps, customer service, emails, call centers, blogs and content, events, short mobile messages, appearance in store, packaging, and workers.
Buyer touchpoints are the best area to enhance conversation with the buyer whether it is informal support chats or the formal client-based research (Meyer, 2007). To ensure effectiveness as far as customer conversations are concerned, Ford Company will prioritize customer support. Most people watching violent films often do not battle their eyelashes. However, when they experience violence in real life, they usually have shock, stress, and many of the psychological issues. Similarly, listening to buyers’ stories, complaints and problems on a secondhand basis are different from experiencing the same challenges on a firsthand basis.
Therefore, it will be important for Ford Motor Company to get every employee from the top managers to the lowest ranked employees to regularly do customer support. With the engaging of an employee from different levels, the company will ensure effectiveness in building customer intimacy at scale. The strategy also gives all the members of the company a chance to connect and understand their buyers, and the context to know their clients better from firsthand experience.
Customer Service Management
Customer service includes factors which ensure the buyer is satisfied with the product offered by the business. Managing customer service is one of the best ways of earning the loyalty of customers. The company seeks to provide a consistent, and quality service, open communication channels, and quick response to customer issues will allow the company to carry out better customer experience and increase the potential sale of cars. Many organizations appreciate that their customers are the most critical assets. When the buyers realize that they are important, they reflect it in how they continue to buy the products. Whenever the performance of the company surpasses the expectations of the customer, they are delighted and satisfied and will always rely on the business (Kibitok, 2018).
To realize customer intimacy, the company will ensure the personal touch in the platform which links the business to the available social networks such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The buyers can respond directly respond to promotions and events, share the Ford brand with other people, and create excitement in other people concerning the services and products offered by Ford Motor Company.
The company will gather data from their customers while they engage with its products and services to serve them better. Through surveys, cross-promotional social functions, and email campaigns, Ford Company will be able to fine-tune its buyers and potential customer targets and segmentation. With such streamlining, the campaigns become more specific hence allowing the buyers to connect to the products and services. Furthermore, data integration will help the company to understand its customer’s expectations and needs which is at the middle of any business success as poised by Rahman and Safeena (2016).
The company will also focus on the leadership that can drive its customer intimacy strategy. Strategic consultants are important because they allow team-building in the whole company for every employee to take part in the new strategic decision. A big company like Ford Motor Company which has many employees requires an individual who can rally them to adopt a new strategy. The roles of the new leadership will be clearly defined and objectives set to meet the customers’ needs through delegation of responsibilities from top to bottom.
Furthermore, the company will review its organizational structure to accommodate the customer intimacy decision. The structure will be reviewed to allow decision-making authority to be granted to the workers in the grassroots who engage with customers directly. The people on the ground are given the power to actualize things for the buyers faster but still adhering to the set principles from the delivery teams and executive management.
Rewarding employees is an important way of ensuring they perform optimally in executing the new customer intimacy strategic decision. Ibrar and Khan (2015) contend that the relationship between employee reward systems, job satisfaction, and motivation are significant in both private and public organization’s success. Despite their levels, engaged employees who are enthusiastic about the goods and services offered deserve rewarding. Ford Company will initiate enthusiasm initiatives such as starting incentive programs, bonuses, and spiff programs lead to the motivation of employees. Once motivated, the employees will get involved with the newly developed strategic decision and product familiarity. The employee knowledge of the product and service at every touchpoint enables the buyers to have intimacy with the products.
The people who work for the company are the most critical assets of the organization. Successful organization engaging in customer intimacy strategy must ensure its employees become true servants, smart thinkers, have character beyond reproach, and are relentlessly committed to the course of the company. Ford Company’s core beliefs will be posted, reviewed whenever an opportunity arises. The success of installing the new organizational beliefs into employees will be enhanced with motivating and rewarding them.
Customer Advisory Boards
Ford Motor Company will develop a go-to panel of some of its highly valued automobile buyers to conduct reviews similar to what the board of directors does but within the context of the customer. The board will have forums to review the trends within the organization and speak to the mutual opportunities and challenges, and also giving straightforward guidance and insights from their perspective. Customer advisory boards will form a meaningful, lasting and close relationship between the customers and the leadership of the company.
The company will ensure effective customer advisory boards have focused goals right from the start of the implementation process of customer intimacy strategy. The objective of the board will be to act as trusted advisors on how Ford Motor Company can act regarding the major trends. The plan will boost customer retention rate for the company. To engage these boards, the company will create a profile of the board members, and they must be passionate about marketing, employee retention, and development. However as Danon (2018) says, a robust customer advisory board needs the effort of a well-organized team with particular roles and tasks with proper management oversight. The company will strive to establish a team that is devoted to a successful program hence ensuring the success of the boards.
Many buyers consider meetup sessions as events where they connect with people like themselves. Ford Company will facilitate several meetup events to increase the chances of knowing more customers. The company will take the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with the potential buyers. The budget for organizing meetups will be increased to enable the events to be carried out in various cities, especially where the head offices are located across the world. Furthermore, the company will also have a virtual customer meetup which uses less budget. However, this will be to enhance the real events.
During the meetups, the company will feature customer-led presentation. The strategy elevates the customer and makes them connect more with the company products. Mingling will form the vital part of the events because it is the primary purpose of the customers coming.
Ford Motor Company will develop a new customer intimacy strategy which will be technology-oriented to cope with the emerging trends in the productivity and profitability of the company. The company is poised to become a world leader in automobile sales. The main focus of the strategy will be based on the customer whom it regards as the most important asset of the company’s growth. The customer intimacy strategic decision will enable Ford Motor Company to perform better as far as its sales are concerned. The strategy has a mediating role in customer retention and loyalty which are some of the key performance indicators of a successful strategy for a company like Ford Motor Company. Once the customers are satisfied by the services and product quality of the business, they will continue buying from Ford hence the strategy will have achieved its objective.
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