When we launched the Your Ideas section on theFordStory.com in April 2010, we suspected that quite a few of you had an idea for a future feature or technology that you would like to share with Ford. Boy, were we right – more than 2,800 ideas have been posted since then!
This section is about more than just posting an idea, though. It allows you to develop the idea with comments from others. Visitors can participate in a community-based setting online where they can review and rate the idea with a thumbs-up or -down.
The most popular category to date is Performance/Driving Dynamics, with Comfort/Convenience running a close second.
We thought you might be interested in what Ford thinks about all of these ideas that you’re posting. And, what happens with the ideas that are posted. We talked to Rick Novak, who heads up the Global Vehicle Marketing Strategy Group for Ford. His team regularly reviews the ideas posted and ultimately makes recommendations on what features are incorporated into future Ford vehicles.
theFordStory: What does your group do at Ford?
Rick: Our job is to try and keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the marketplace in terms of what people want for new features. We work to better understand the consumer; trying to anticipate future features based on market trends, unmet needs and customer factors, wants, etc. We work to enhance the driver experience and attempt to figure out the crystal ball at Ford.
Why get input from theFordStory visitors?
This is one of many consumer touch points that we want to use to try to capture unmet needs and get customer feedback on solutions that they are looking for. This specific effort through theFordStory helps generate ideas as well as validate other ideas indirectly that we may be considering.
What is an indication that an idea is good for future consideration?
We look at which of the posted ideas are resonating and which ones aren’t. The great thing about this tool is getting votes and comments posted as an immediate source of feedback from a lot of people. It’s a great first-glance look at which ideas are good and building momentum with people. The immediacy of people being able to view ideas, vote on them and comment on them is very valuable.
Where else does your group gather ideas from?
We do a significant amount of research. Some is vehicle specific and some is cross-vehicle and cross segment. We review studies from outside groups that focus on customer unmet needs and wants as well as technology and social trend studies that help indicate a need or desire. And of course we listen to our current Ford and Lincoln owner base.
Does your group only look at the automotive space?
We evaluate non-auto consumer behavior as well. For example, cell phones and other technology innovations rule our lives these days, not just our lives in the vehicle. SYNC® came out of this process. No one said that they wanted SYNC, but they did say that they’d love to have their iPod and phone work through their vehicle. These are signature technologies that are exclusive to Ford. MyKey®, EasyFuel™, and Blind Spot Mirror all came out of this process as well. The next big innovation idea is MyFord Touch™ that will launch in the 2011 Ford Edge and Ford Explorer, and MyLincoln Touch™ in the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
What can people do to improve the chance of having their idea used by Ford?
People can focus on telling us what Ford can do to improve their automotive experience. Something that enriches their driving experience, addresses a need, personalizes a vehicle or helps keep them stay connected or makes their life easier. Something they always thought would be cool. And be as specific as possible.
What are the most interesting and useful types of ideas?
We really want input on a broad variety of topics. We want to put as much safety features into the vehicles as we can, as well as entertainment, customization, convenience, etc.
How are the ideas that are posted on theFordStory reviewed by Ford?
We collect all of the ideas posted. They are prioritized and then the top performing ideas are discussed, and they go out to market-research. We consider the ideas that can best fit on multiple vehicles and we go to multiple locations around the world to conduct consumer clinics and get feedback from a variety of customer groups. This process helps validate the ideas that are a genuine need for a majority of customers and helps identify a solution.
Any general advice that you would give to people interested in posting an idea?
Tell us what your want is. Tell us how you function in your vehicle and how you want to interact with the vehicle. Maybe you just need a fob or a key card. Someone might say I don’t want to carry keys.
You don’t necessarily need to come with the solution, but more of a want. Do you want a five-speed manual transmission because it’s more fun, not cheaper than an auto? Do you want your windows to go down with voice control? How do you want to interact with the vehicle and its technology? Maybe using voice commands over pushing buttons? We’ll work on the execution. You just keep posting needs and wants.
What specific area is Ford interested in hearing ideas on?
We’re interested in a variety of ideas, but for the next month, we’d like to focus ideas posted on theFordStory around entertainment and connectivity.
People used to bring VCRs and TVs into a vehicle before the market started outfitting vehicles with DVD players and a screen. What’s the next thing that you want to use in your vehicle to function or entertain yourself and rear-seat passengers?
We’re looking to address customer demands for their want to have technology that can be built in, brought in and/or beamed in. How do we help you connect your life better with the vehicle?
Want to post your idea and join the conversation? Click here to learn more.