PK Umashankar – the latest name in Ford Philippines’ list of managing directors, a cycle that happens every two years for the Blue Oval brand. The company invited me and a handful of motoring media to have an intimate afternoon with the new main man – to get to know him personally and what he intends to do to help the company grow from its current position in the market.
Umashankar, or Uma, is a seasoned executive within Ford’s ASEAN arm. Prior to his new role in Ford Philippines, he was the director of Ford ASEAN’s Customer Service Division based in Bangkok, Thailand. He was also the brand manager of Ford Asia Pacific from 2015 to 2017 where he oversaw the launch of the facelifted EcoSport.
With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a deep understanding of customer service, Uma has his eye on improving one of the major gripes with Ford products in the Philippines: everything that has to do with after-sales services.
Naturally, Uma gave us a quick preview of his plans for the Blue Oval company, which includes improving dealership viability, brand image, and customer experience. But what piqued our interest was how he wanted to automate parts sourcing from across all Ford’s dealer network – even outside the Philippines.
Streamlined Parts Sourcing
According to Uma, technical expertise and great customer experience aren’t mutually exclusive with the availability of parts in a dealership. All should go hand-in-hand. The service advisor might know what to do with a certain vehicle problem, but it won’t be solved if the needed parts aren’t available at a convenient time.
In order to resolve this, Uma wants to automate the sourcing of parts. Using bots (or what we presume as software) to find specific part numbers within Ford’s database, Uma is positive about making this work within Ford’s local dealership network.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say a specific part number is needed to repair a Ford Everest. The service advisor will search for that specific part number within the database. If not found within that dealership or any other dealership in the Philippines, the bots will automatically look for the specific part number on dealers outside the country – until the part has been found. The part, no matter where the bot found it, will then be shipped back to the Philippines.
This way, a specific date and time will be given to the customer, which should lessen the anxiety of waiting. Uma also said that vehicle loaning for a customer will be a thing, and we certainly hope so since we know the pain of not having a car while waiting for yours to be serviced.
It’s too early to tell whether this new process will have a positive impact on the brand’s customer service woes, but as we see it, it’s a step in the right direction. But then again, this isn’t the only problem that Ford Philippines faces when it comes to after-sales services. Hopefully, Uma will be able to resolve those within two years of being the company’s managing director.
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