Ford offers FordPass app for better customer experience

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is attempting to attract new customers and improve relationships with existing ones with a new app-based platform called FordPass that lets users do things like pay for downtown parking or share their vehicle, the company announced Monday.

The app, which is free and goes live in April for Ford owners and non-owners alike, utilizes a number of partnerships with mobility companies and Silicon Valley-based startups and underscores the Dearborn automaker’s effort to transform into both an auto and a mobility company.

Ford says it wants FordPass to do for the car ownership experience what iTunes did for music-lovers: namely, bring everything together under an easy-to-use platform.

The platform has four main focuses: a marketplace for mobility services; “FordGuides,” who can answer questions via texts or calls at all hours; “FordHubs,” which are actual buildings across the globe where customers can experience Ford technology; and a loyalty program in which app users can earn points and rewards.

Ford designed the app in less than a year. It looked at companies like Amazon, Burberry, Nespresso and Nike to see what they were doing right in terms of customer experiences.

“Any company, if it goes to its core, exists to satisfy and solve problems for customers,” Stephen Odell, Ford executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service, said in an interview. “Everyone strives for a better consumer experience.”

Among the FordPass’ marketplace services, Ford is partnering with ParkWhiz and Parkopedia. Customers can use the app to find, reserve and pay for parking spots at lots and garages in downtowns.

The automaker is also partnering with FlightCar, which allows traveling customers to park near an airport for free, and while they’re on their trips, FlightCar is allowed to rent out their vehicle to other drivers.

In the future, Ford wants to expand the marketplace to include ride sharing, car sharing and more.

FordGuides can assist customers using the app. For example, if someone needs help locating a parking space, he or she can either call or text a FordGuide through a button on the app.

Another aspect to the platform is FordHubs: Actual urban storefronts where customers can go to learn more about mobility options in that particular city. The first four pilot FordHubs will be in New York, San Francisco, London and Shanghai.

The first opens later this year in Westfield World Trade Center in New York

The app will also include a rewards system. Customers can earn points, by using the app, which they can eventually redeem for yet-to-be-determined rewards.