For many car owners, dealing with basic service is a time-consuming hassle.
Make an appointment at the dealership, take time off, and either drop the vehicle off and be car-less for the whole day or pass hours at the service center watching game shows on TV and eating out of the vending machine.
Ford, in partnership with Panasonic, is trying something different: a "Smart Service Kiosk" that might remind some car owners of automated checkout at a grocery store or home-improvement store.
"The kiosk allows customers to come to the dealership at any time to drop-off and pick-up their vehicle key or obtain keys to a loaner vehicle, select needed services from a quick-pick menu, and pay for service using a credit or debit card," Ford said in a statement.
According to the carmaker, the kiosk went online in January at Lafontaine Ford in Michigan and will operate for three months. It will also be, literally, a 24/7 proposition for owners. So if you realize you need an oil change at 3:00 AM, Ford has you covered.
“At Ford, our goal always is to make customers lives better, through both our products and services,” Brad Brownell, the automaker's Global Distribution Strategy director, said in a statement.
“Smart Service Kiosk enables Ford customers to drop-off, pick-up, select and pay for their vehicle service on their time, whether it’s outside of dealership service hours, or to avoid waiting in line if the service staff is busy.”
Dealers may be concerned that with services such as this, their ability to interact with customers and sell or lease new vehicles could be hampered.
But for Ford, removing a common pain point for owners could actually improve business, as their loyalty to dealer service would be enhanced by the experimental system.
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