When Henry Ford founded the Henry Ford Company in 1903, no one expected the company to be the fifth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Ford is the second-largest vehicle maker in the United States, and the company is still under the control of the Ford family. In 1956, the company went public, but the Ford family still controlled 40 percent of the voting rights through special Class B shares. Henry Ford II was CEO of Ford until 1982, and William Clay Ford Jr. took over as executive chairman in 1998. In 2001, William Clay Ford Jr. became the CEO of the company.
But another member of the Ford family is in the news these days. Elena Ford, the fifty-two-year-old daughter of Charlotte Ford, is the company’s new chief Customer Experience Officer. Elena was a Ford VP before accepting this new position. She’ll report to the president of global operations, Joe Hinrichs. Elena started working for her great-grandfather’s company in 1995. She’s an NYU graduate, and she’s full of the Ford family spirit. In 2013, Ford got the vice president of global dealer and customer experience job, so she knows how to work with Ford employees as well as Ford customers.
According to Elena, all giant international companies fail to focus on customer experiences. The little things fall through the cracks, according to Ford, and those cracks become fault lines that hurt the Ford customer experience. Elena Ford’s job is to ensure every customer has a positive experience when they walk into a Ford dealership. It’s her job to make sure every customer’s car buying experience is a smooth transaction no matter where they buy a Ford product.
Elena Ford will also develop worldwide standards, so every Ford Motor Company dealership and every employee interact with customers the same way. That means the salespeople, as well as the mechanics, will treat customers with respect and a positive attitude. Elena studied corporate strategies and customer behavior, so she’s well aware of the issues that can turn potential Ford buyers off. Ford spent hours in dealerships in the United States and China examining customer feedback and data. She also studies the customer service practices of Disney, Jet Blue, and Apple. Those three companies put a lot of emphasis on customer care and service. Ford’s goal is to set up a system that attracts potential car and truck buyers and then keep those buyers happy once they purchase a vehicle. Elena Ford wants to make every Ford owner part of the company’s extended family.