Ford is using how-to videos in an attempt to improve an important part of the car-buying experience: the purchased-vehicle delivery process.

An online orientation guide that features about 100 short video tutorials or “snacks,” as Ford calls them, is being rolled out to 3,000 Ford and Lincoln dealers in the coming months.

Ford says the initiative streamlines the delivery process and avoids information overload by having the salesperson demonstrate only those features the customer wants to learn about at that time. It also avoids the potential of salespeople talking about features that interest them more than what the customer may want to hear about.

“Customers have told us that they are not looking for an overall delivery experience with a checklist that is managed by the sales consultant,” says Andrew Ashman, Ford’s global consumer experience manager.

“This new orientation guide allows the customers to customize everything for themselves,” he says. “They can decide what they want to learn in the dealership today, what they want to learn during a follow-up visit or they can email it home and watch the videos on their own time.”

The videos explain things such as how to turn a vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot and use the infotainment system.

Many of the videos already exist on Ford’s “Know Your Vehicle” YouTube channel, but this is the first time all have been integrated into the sales experience. 

Ashman credits Ford’s Store Owner Consumer Experience Committee of 27 dealers with the idea.

“They are the ones who said we need new tools to help us create a better delivery experience,” he says. “We did customer research, watched the process at dealerships, and 30 salespeople from across the country took part in a pilot program which included a month-long trial with actual customers.”

To determine topics covered by the video, Ford reviewed customer comments that were received 30 to 90 days after purchase. It also monitored customer posts on Web forums.

Ford’s current delivery checklist is used 80% to 90% of the time. Ashman thinks the on-line videos will be used as much or more.

Ford’s field team currently is meeting with dealers to train them on the use of the tool.

“Our team has been very enthused by this new orientation and delivery process, and that tells me it’s going to be a game-changer for our store,” says Casey Jenkins, Internet manager at Jenkins and Wynne Ford Lincoln in Clarksville, TN. The store participated in the pilot.

“It is a savvy, smart, seamless way for the dealership and the consumer to communicate with each other,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for our sales consultants to listen to and cater to the needs of the consumer.” 

With modern cars containing so much technology, advanced equipment and driver information systems, “we had to alter what we focused on during delivery,” says John Donohue, commercial truck manager at another pilot program participant, Acton Ford in Acton, MA.

When delivering a new vehicle in the past, the dealership used a list of features that had been developed by Ford.

“You would take the customer through everything in the vehicle when they came to get their car,” says Donohue. “If you were to step through every item on the list, it would be too much information to take in at one sitting.

“The video orientation guide lets the customer tell the delivery person ‘this is how I want to spend my time, this is what is most important to me.’ We’ve been using the system for a while and the customers seem to enjoy the process.”

Donohue says he encourages customers to schedule return visits to ask questions after they’ve had a chance to live with their vehicle for a few weeks. “Frankly, with all the content, they often don’t know what to ask at the time of delivery,” he says.

The new program puts customers “in control of what they want to learn about,” Ashman says.