Ford Motor Launches CRM Services For U.S. Small Businesses With Salesforce As Passenger

As the auto industry seeks to diversify its revenue streams, Ford Motor Co has partnered with Salesforce to launch VIIZR, a field service and CRM tool to serve the needs of small business owners in the United States.

VIIZR is a custom solution based on Salesforce Field Service that Ford says “will help merchants schedule field appointments, send invoices and manage customer relationships from an integrated platform based on the cloud “.

It was developed by Ford Pro, the dedicated business division of Ford Motor which was established earlier this year with a mission to focus on vehicles, technology and services for the commercial vehicle industry and to increase productivity. fleet, improve uptime and reduce operating costs with connected services and plug-and-play internal combustion and battery electric vehicles.

According to Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis:

Ford Pro helps commercial customers maximize productivity. We know that the back office is a major problem for businesses, which often write documents from the cab of their truck or van. VIIZR returns that time back, delivering better returns to these small businesses and allowing them to better serve their customers.

VIIZR is touted as “affordable and easy to use CRM tools”. According to the official blurb, it is claimed that VIIZR users can:

  • Stay on track with digitized quotes, work orders, invoicing and job management.
  • Connect with customers through an all-in-one customer profile, which facilitates communication and provides a better customer experience.
  • Streamline operations with planning, dispatch and coordination capabilities of field technicians, improving productivity and efficiency.
  • Eliminate waste by increasing efficiency. Craftsmen can reduce their business waste by scheduling jobs in real time, which saves time and fuel; while digital invoicing can help save paper.

SME opportunity

The new offer is aimed at American SMEs. Ford Motor says there are currently 675,000 SMEs in the service and maintenance and construction trades in the United States alone, but these companies are not exploiting the potential benefits of field service and CRM tools . Ford and Salesforce cite a recent Morning Consult study that found that only 20% of small business owners are happy with the way their business handles customer and employee relationships, while only 10% believe software tools productivity levels are tailored to businesses of their size.

For companies with less than 20 employees, Ford estimates that VIIZR could reduce back office work by more than 40%, or about 25 hours per week, based on a 40-hour week, 22 days per month. and 48 weeks per year. It would be a useful productivity booster for a crucial sector of the US economy. Marc Benioff, Co-CEO of Salesforce, explains:

Small business owners are the backbone of our communities, and every day across America plumbers, electricians and landscapers get into their Ford vehicles to build our economy.

In practice, it will not be necessary to be a Ford vehicle driver to subscribe to VIZZR. Potential customers will sign up for the service through for a cost of $ 49 per user per month or an annual subscription of $ 39 per user per month. It is not known at this stage what the plans are to offer the service outside of the US market.

This latest offer from Ford Motor reflects the ambition of its Ford + plan announced a year ago. This is intended to fuel growth and value creation by combining “existing strengths, new capabilities and ongoing relationships with customers to enrich experiences and deepen customer loyalty”.

Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor, provided an update on the strategy’s progress last month:

It creates growth, value and allows us to win in the emerging field of electric and connected vehicles. We have built a strong team that combines the best leaders at Ford with world-class talent recruited from outside our company, specific talent, specific people who are largely outside of our industry. This management team is committed to this plan and we are accelerating our progress.

Ford + is not a slogan. It is not advertising. It’s a broader and more ambitious way of thinking about our business and how we deliver value to our customers… we intend to deliver on our promise to compete as a challenger by focusing on our top priorities to unlock Ford + ‘s growth with customers at the center of everything we do.

My opinion

This is an interesting initiative from Ford Motor and with a lot of potential. It is far from being the only big name in the automotive industry seeking to diversify and reduce its dependence on vehicle sales by developing connected subscription services. Look no further than GM, where CEO Mary Barra incubates start-ups through and uses her venture capital arm to seed many more.

As Farley noted previously in Salesforce’s Leading Through Change series:

We’ve had a private vehicle ownership business model for 117 years and Ford has done very well as a global American company… we need to turn around our auto business. We need to modernize our capabilities – and that includes tools like Salesforce – and we need to disrupt ourselves. Part of that will come with automated self-driving vehicles – it’s personal property disruption where we use the vehicle by the mile. And part of that will go into the service industry… what’s going on with connectivity in our industry is creating services that customers will love even more than product differentiation.

And he hinted at what was to become VIIZR:

If you were to walk around with a plumber or electrician doing their job, you’d be shocked – they sort of run their business on PostIt Notes. The reality is that by working with Salesforce we can use a lot of [their] tools to build for them truly game-changing business solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. These are very underserved customers who do not have the enterprise solutions that large companies like Ford do. I think the Salesforce team has tools that, once in place, could really change the lives of these customers. You are an electrician, you are a plumber, you have five vans or trucks, you are busy all day, your teams are repairing. You don’t have time to bid on new work, take inventory. All of these things are available when we work together differently.

This is the theory. We’ll see how this plays out in practice when VIIZR officially launches in the first half of next year, although the company is looking for companies that now want to pilot the platform on a complementary basis.

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