Ford EcoSport Review

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One Ford One Day Many Things to Love
The impact of Ford’s Customer Experience focus on the Ford EcoSport

My mother is over eighty, but that did not stop her being an attendee at naughty driver school last month. In the UK, the Speed Awareness Course is offered as an alternative to a fine and penalty points in many police districts. Just because she is a decade or so older than she admits, she still drives, likes speed and values many of the same features in a car as a young urban eco-conscious driver.

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Driving the Ford EcoSport through Hua Hin Thailand as part of the #EcoSportdrive campaign

In my last blog I reported that I was off to Thailand to test drive the new Ford EcoSport which arrives in New Zealand in April 2014 and has already landed in Australia. It has been a run away success elsewhere in Asia, with a year’s production sold in just 14 days in India.

I am a driver who loves speed and power but am only 5 ft 1inches tall. Performance cars are rarely styled with the short woman in mind but I have always refused to drive any small size, small engine, gutless vehicle targeted at women. I am also passionate about the importance of Customer Experience (#CX) for profitable businesses and am a fierce supporter of those who do it well and a brutal critic of those who do not.

Henry Ford once said: “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits.  They will be embarrassingly large.” I could not agree more and the stats around companies who do CX well confirm this.

The One Ford Strategy was launched by CEO Alan Mulally to address Ford’s failing profitability and fierce competition. One Ford included a new vision and mission around the constructs of One Team, One Plan and One Goal to get a global focus on production to move away from local models developed only for local markets. This vision is being delivered across Ford through the One Ford Development System. This vision and the implementation system seem to be a substantial part of the renewed success being experienced by Ford across the globe (if not yet in Australia).

One Ford Vision sheetMy favourite book on Customer Experience is “Outside In. The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of your Business” by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine. Manning and Bodine describe a customer experience ecosystem as “the complex set of relationships among a company’s employees, partners and customers that determines the quality of all customer interactions.”  The One Ford vision recognises the importance of the CX ecosystem by talking about a Ford global team working together, but with success measured by all the players in the ecosystem. All focused on putting the customer back at the heart of Ford as Henry intended. one_ford Click here for a downloadable pdf of the One Ford Strategy Map.

The EcoSport was originally launched in the South American market in 2003 (selling over 700 thousand cars) and has been enormously successful, resonating with the emerging eco-conscious, style driven, urban dwellers of countries like Brazil. When the decision was made to take the EcoSport into the ASEAN Markets, the new One Ford Development System was introduced for the creation of the second generation model, to unite the teams, taking them out of their silos and in the direction of “designing for, and around, the customer.lead-with-wisdom

 

In his book “Lead with Wisdom” Mark Strom talks about wisdom and brilliance and says “design is wisdom in making”. He describes the design process as “intellectual, social and physical. …The process is thoughtfully simple and grounded in experience… Good architects don’t start with a list of features. They start with your story of home. ”

Meeting the design and engineering team leaders before and after we test drove the car, it was clear that they were genuinely excited about their achievement in designing and working as One Team, to produce a vehicle they were proud of and that the customers were loving too.  The story of their customers’ lives, not just the shopping list of reviewers and critics, seems to have been driving the design approach.

Test driving the EcoSport

 Key technical specs for the EcoSport and my reflections, are all set out in the panel below entitled “If you’re more interested in torque than talk here’s the lowdown.”

Cutting to the chase, my conclusion is that the EcoSport is a vehicle for all generations. Designed originally for the young eco-focused, style conscious SUV desiring, urban dwellers, I am strongly of the view that it is also a great vehicle for older generations who are looking for similar outcomes, if from a different starting point.  This is a great SUV to drive, with good visibility, comfort, power and still easy on the cost conscious wallet.

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I test drove the EcoSport for a full day in Thailand across various terrain, with a CX customer focus, considering both my requirements as a performance loving urban dweller and those of my speeding mother!

My experience

Men learn quickly in life that a woman’s handbag is a place men should enter with trepidation. The EcoSport has solved that problem, with automatic door control without the need for a key. Once within a metre or so of the car it unlocks automatically. I like the idea that my mother would no longer be hanging around in a dark car park digging around for car keys.

The EcoSport is a bit like a Tardis or for those too young for Dr Who, like Perkins’ tent from Harry Potter. It looks like a roomy SUV but will park in a space designed for a Fiesta. Inside, this mirage of space continues. We had 4 adults comfortable inside with room to spare.

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Short driver still gets great visibility and tall drivers still accommodated with headroom.

Getting in was easy regardless of height or limitations. The driver set up is good. The seat design emulates that of a sporty car and the range of adjustment was good enough to satisfy even a shortie like me. Once set up the range of visibility was good, both front and back and large wing mirrors finished off the 360° perspective.

I have always been a fan of automatic gearboxes and having driven mainly performance cars, do not subscribe to the silly notions of automatic gearboxes lacking in responsiveness. The EcoSport gearbox performed well on overtaking and quick manoeuvres and the sport setting adding some more oomph, if reducing the fuel economy. My only disappointment and caution to my mother, mindful that it is only a 1.5litre engine, is that she is unlikely to beat annoying boy racers off the lights but she should be able to overtake them when their dumb engines splutter at higher revs.

If safety is your thing, the EcoSport has a 5 Star ANCAP Safety Rating and the NZ models have up to 7 airbags.  Hill Launch Assist removes those heart beat moments and a 10.8m turning circle will help back you out of any wrong turns in dodgy parts of town. Four ultrasonic parking sensors should make parking dings a thing of the past and the Boron Steel Body provides a strong protective cage.

w2 EcoSport_Drive _104If storage of stuff or transport of friends, seniors or grandchildren is a concern, the rear seats have 6 different configuration options and with the seats folded and tumbled there was space for a washing machine. We tested this feature using a jigsaw of cubes, which made up to the size of a washing machine. I cannot report success in the jigsaw building competition, our failure due in no small part to my fellow male writers not having seen an actual washing machine before! I can report however that it fitted with room to spare.

There are 20 different storage spaces in the car and I particularly liked the under front seat drawer with room to hide shoes or laptops from prying eyes and the drink can (maybe even lipstick and perfume) cooling space in the glovebox.

The SUV features include 200mm of high ground clearance and capacity to drive through water up to 550mm. I put to the test the balance between comfort and handling, seeking out potholes and pavements and was happy with the result. Although when I had passengers in the rear they were a little less enthusiastic about my pothole test driving!

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This was easy driving and not a manoeuvre I would normally attempt in my car.

NZ is the fortunate beneficiary of design features, which take account of monsoon conditions. The rain seals and cladding all work together to create a really quiet interior, which reminded me how noisy planes are, even with noise cancelling headphones. While most New Zealanders are fortunate not to commute in noisy horn invaded rush-hours, the silence inside made turning the volume up and singing along a really attractive option.

SYNC® powered by Microsoft is employed to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The technology allowing you to control phone, stereo and other devices with voice control. One positive side effect we found is that you might improve your diction, otherwise you could be like me requesting Cliff Richards and getting the latest from the rapper, Pitbull, which I can report sounded better than Cliff ever could have.

My partner made me promise not to ask any questions about colours and interiors but I chose to forget my promise! The good news is that New Zealand will be getting a nice range of colours including the awesome orange pictured here. I love orange but have always been of the view that it was wrong, wrong, wrong as a colour for a car. Now I am persuaded otherwise and it would be my pick. The interior choices are pleasing and leather is included in the spec options, which would always be my preference.

Final prices will be announced as part of the launch in New Zealand in April 2014 but expect it to be competitive, realistic and good value for the features delivered.

Wrapping it all up this is a great vehicle. I really appreciate the attention paid to the features drivers, in the target sectors, really value. I would love to find the EcoSport in a hirecar portfolio or fleet and I think this is a great option for anyone looking for a small car, a small to mid sized SUV or even looking for a tardis!

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Ford’s commitment to Customer Experience-Off to Thailand to put it to the test

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Customer Experience CX is a topic I have been passionate about for my whole career. In the early days as a lawyer doing it badly, to now where I run all my businesses around CX principles.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
Henry Ford

Ford launched its customer experience movement about 3 years ago. This quote from Henry Ford is coming true in its dealer networks as a result of the introduction of the CX Movement. This blog from SweetIQ looks at the recent successes and improvements.  Sweetiq blog on CX at Fordecosport wadingjpgThis weekend I am off to Thailand to see the Ford CX movement in action as we take this new Ford Ecosport through its paces and hopefully through some mud! Follow this space as well as my updates on LinkedIn Facebook Instagram #ecosportdrive and Twitter, to see how we get on and my conclusion on the Ford CX approach.

Is it time to introduce “Bring your wife to the Boardroom Day” ?

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All the press about International Women’s Day got me thinking about the continuing challenge of achieving all sorts of diversity in all the places that matter across our society. I want to scream every time a man says we would love more women on our Board but we cannot find any interested. Frankly that is rubbish.

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http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7870784/Bright-lights-of-the-capital-just-a-dream

I read this story in October 2012 while having flown down for a day of meetings in Wellington. It has remained a nagging story in the back of my mind since then. I previously thought I was social and worldly wise. Have a quick read but the startling comment was “Naenae College principal John Russell said that of 26 pupils in a recent year 9 class, 16 had never been to Wellington.” It is our capital city and only 20km away. Most of those kids had never been on a train.

Fast forward to 2014 and I caught a few minutes of a reality show where a young person being given a chance at a job in hospitality, was demonstrating a total absence of any understanding of the basics of polite meeting and greeting. He was keen to learn but even the essentials I learnt at age 5 were unknown to him.

As educated people we make assumptions and presumptions all the time about people’s baseline of knowledge and experience of every day matters. The evidence is increasingly showing that this is a dangerous starting point for decision making on a range of issues in society and in business.

That got me thinking of how can an all male Board of older men make good decisions when they lack diversity in their ranks and no daily insights into the reality of being poor, poorly educated and lacking in opportunities. However, in privileged environments many of these men will have wives engaged in running families, dealing with education, addressing health issues and making a difference to society getting involved with charities and seeing the inequalities in action.

Solution: Introduce Bring your Wife to the Boardroom Day. While we continue with an appalling lack of diversity in gender and social experience on Boards maybe we could encourage these hard working women to come to the Boardroom and shift the thinking. While they maintain that there are no women available to increase Board diversity (despite their intentions) most of them will have at least one at home (or in their lives) who daily demonstrates intellectual and social awareness.

 

Is it time to add the health of your staff’s brains to your health and safety reviews?

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29th March 2014 is BrainDay in Auckland. lead by the amazing Professor Richard Faull, Director for the Centre for Brain Research. This culmination of Brain Week provides an opportunity for people to hear about the latest research on the brain underway at the Centre. Here is the link to their site. 

https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/cbr/brainweek/

As employers and directors, people are becoming better at ensuring that talented people with disabilities are welcomed into organisations and enabled to stay but I wonder if we are at the same stage of acceptance and knowledge with dealing with mental illnesses, impairments and neurological challenges.

My work in Mind Mapping and Thinking Skills keeps me reading around the topic of neurology and business. I remain fascinated and an amateur in this area. I am noticing that recently there is more coming across my browser (!) about the increasing brain plasticity changes people face in a world where Google has started to replace some of our traditional thinking skills. If we stop challenging our brains to remember things and thereby building them, because the answer is a click or swipe away, what happens if parts of our brains are impacted in any way?  Do not look to me for the answer, I just have lots of questions!

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The challenge I see is that as the workforce average age increases, we need to be mindful of two things. First, making sure that we all know how to use our brains to the best of our ability; and secondly how to ensure our organisations know how to nurture and keep people with any health issue impacting the brain. We know how to keep someone working with a bad back but what about if it is the brain causing the challenges?

My recent experiences as an observer of New Zealand’s mental health services, is that we are still funding treatment of non brain physical challenges, in a more effective way than those impacting the brain. This inevitably means that employers need to be better equipped to help their good people through whatever they are facing.

If you are in Auckland Brain Day presents a great opportunity to hear from the best and see how your organisation can keep and nurture those with health issues not easily visible.

 

Is it time to have more executive assistants in our organisations again?

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SONY DSCIn the tough times many organisations let their admin assistants and PAs go. Trouble is, our organisations now have, at senior levels, more two finger typists than ever before. Those who let the PAs go worked in an age when the PC was not necessarily the dominate player on every desk. It was possible for them to make do without a dedicated PA. Now the senior ranks across the world is full of men and women who did not learn typing at school and use some variant of the peck. My partner is constantly disturbed at my attacks at the keyboard as if it was an old Remington ball typewriter! I tried typing lessons but the boredom nearly finished me off and I learned to love the value of support.

Seems to me the time has come to rethink how we resource our organisations as economies take a turn for the better. If you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for executives, why would you force them to do admin work themselves inefficiently and possibly badly.  Lawyers are a great example of highly paid professionals who command high rates for each hour they deliver to clients, yet if you walk around the average law firm you will see many lawyers typing slowly and incompetently at your expense! Great customer experience’s are supported by having the right people doing the right things at the right level of competence.

The discovery that got me thinking along this line this morning was TripIt’s new amazing service that loads up all your travel details into your TripIt account off a pdf of an itinerary or e-ticket in seconds, just by emailing it to them. If you have never tried TripIt, have a go and be amazed at the speed.

This certainly will help all of those who are managing their work without admin assistance or those with a PA who dare not ask with help arranging their vacations. Then it might be time for a 60s style time and motion study and see how much time and money your organisation wastes by not valuing support staff enough.

 

The Future of Work-why New Zealand needs to embrace new concepts -why I have a problem with the EMA view #futureofwork

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http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11190340

article-2202052-14F93877000005DC-495_964x571Really interesting article in the NZ Herald Magazine on Saturday from Greg Dixon interviewing Jason Fried about his new book “Remote”, see link above.

I am of the view that NZ has a unique opportunity to serve the world’s internet commerce by being 100% customer experience focussed and encouraging businesses from around the world to use our smart, hard working and clever people to drive their businesses while the rest of the world sleeps. More on this topic of customer experience delivery in future posts but in the meantime……..

First we need to figure out how to become 100% employee experience focused. An essential step in such an evolution is to change the way we “manage” people and introduce more trust and confidence in people’s desire to self manage, achieve and deliver. When trust replaces incompetent management the traditional work control paradigm can go out of the window.

imagine my disappointment reading the excellent article by Greg Dixon, to read the comments of Kim Campbell the CEO of the NZ Employers and Manufacturers Association. Have a read for yourself, but my conclusion from reading this piece is that the EMA’s thinking has regressed back to (or maybe never left) a Victorian mindset where staff need to be watched and will not work as they should, with no one watching.

I hope members of this “Victorian” organisation are challenging their CEO to have a more visionary mindset, before we find NZ has no employers left!

As a person who employs many part time workers who set their own hours and often work at home, I have no doubt that the vast majority of people in NZ would step up further if we transformed the working paradigm, with their help and with their needs in mind. As an example, while I am a morning person, most people on my team are not and they start work when their body clocks have woken them up and fired them ready for the day. It always amazes me why employers pay grumpy half asleep people to slope around avoiding work,  when giving them a later start time would guarantee immediate focus and attention.

My challenge to you… what would happen in your organisation if you changed the way people work in February 2014?

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Can’t tell the difference between tweeting and twerking? Think Twitter is only for twits?

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Need help getting started with Twitter? Are you attending a conference any time soon and want to know what the rest of the audience is thinking about the presentations? Twitter is awesome for conferences.

How to get started with Twitter, Tweetdeck, Vine and Instagram will help to demystify Twitter for those who have managed to avoid it this far. This presentation will guide you with step by step instructions to help you set up your own account, download the Twitter app onto your phone or tablet and start tweeting. Also included are handy tips to get you going with Tweetdeck, Vine and Instagram.

Slideshare-Intro to Twitter

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Twitter is a great way of keeping up to date with emerging trends, people you respect and breaking news. It’s also a useful tool to connect with your customers, friends and family.
Follow the link, watch the presentation and you’ll be be tweeting, vining and instagramming in no time!

Slideshare-Intro to Twitter

“No More Lawyers Day” more commonly known as “Ada Lovelace Day” is today 15th October 2013 #ALD13

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http://www.computerworld.co.nz/article/529031/_no_more_lawyers_day_more_commonly_known_ada_lovelace_day_today_15th_october_2013/?fp=16&fpid=1Ubergeeke LR - Final

If there is a problem encouraging bright students into STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths), there is an even bigger problem encouraging young women in.

Today marks Ada Lovelace Day which celebrates the successes of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Ada Lovelace is often referred to as the first computer programmer, after her work on Charles Babbage’s early general-purpose computer. As we celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, there is an opportunity for a discussion around the need for more of our young people and in particular more young women to choose careers in STEM, over traditional professions such as law.

Read more about Ada Lovelace Day at http://findingada.com

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Women in Technology- Brydie Meinung from Virtual Eye @americascup @emiratesteamnz @oracleteamusa

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http://www.computerworld.co.nz/article/528848/women_technology_new_zealander_brydie_meinung_2013_america_cup/?fp=16&fpid=1

Brydie Meinung is a great exponent of women in technology working where entertainment people and technology meet. She is a great example for young women thinking of career choices. I say pick technology and not the law if you want a satisfying rewarding ever-changing career. Time we all got together and directed our smartest students away from a fading career.

This is “Ubergeeke Girl” created by design Student Zoe Roberts for ZeopardSocial as a compelling symbol of technology as a cool and happening career, for young women. Feel free to use it in its entirety as a symbol of tech for girls.

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Will we get affordable housing for disabled people as a result of the latest housing announcements?

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Good news to see the announcement of 6000 new houses are a reality in Auckland. Big question is will there be construction of housing for people with special building needs? If not it is a wasted business opportunity.

I have been talking today to Vanassa McGoldrick Chairperson for the Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust. Vanassa pointed out that housing for disabled people can be a great investment opportunity. “Where else do you get a market where the tenants don’t want to leave.  They are long-term tenants because the accessibility features provide an opportunity for independent living, they cannot obtain anywhere else.  In most cases, funding is provided by the government for the rent, so you get guaranteed rent, a long-term tenant, and an untapped market.  This funding opportunity is immeasurable.”

Professional property investors have for many years been attracted by student rental opportunities, maybe now is the time for professional property investment trusts to hit both the investment button and the triple bottom line, with social housing.

I personally would be attracted by an investment with solid returns and a corporate social responsibility kicker.  However I am of the view that the house below is not going to cut the mustard!

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