• Ask Ford – How artificial intelligence is improving the customer experience

    As part of our ongoing investment to improve the customer experience, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is launching ‘Ask Ford’ – an intuitive global online knowledge base tool for customers.

    Located on the www.ford.co.za website, the Ask Ford self-service tool will be launched on 09 June 2020.

    Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ask Ford makes it possible for customers to ask questions anytime and receive immediate answers that are retrieved directly from Ford systems, owner’s manuals or Ford websites. It uses the repository’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology to search for the best responses, far beyond the reaches of standard search engines.

    Ask Ford can be easily accessed via the magnifying glass icon on the Ford website, and uses artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) and patented natural language processing capabilities. It is designed to produce accurate, relevant answers to a wide variety of questions, thus delivering an enhanced user experience for consumers.

    Besides its benefits to current or prospective Ford customers, Ask Ford also has specific channels designed to support Ford dealers and FMCSA’s national Customer Relationship Centre (CRC) staff, thereby assisting them in obtaining the most up-to-date and precise information related to specific customer queries.

    “Ask Ford is a proven global knowledge base tool for customers, dealers and Ford staff, and is already used in over 25 Ford markets globally serving several languages,” says Neale Hill, managing director of FMCSA. “We are excited to be introducing Ask Ford to the South African market, as it significantly enhances our ability to instantly provide accurate and detailed information for our customers.”

    The system relies on three main tools that assist in finding the information people are looking for. Firstly, Ford’s comprehensive Knowledge Repository is searched for the most accurate response to questions. It uses natural language processing, which assesses the question as a whole, instead of just keywords. This allows the user to be specific when asking a question, such as: “How do I use active park assist?” The system also contains a Related Topics window, allowing the user to explore similar subjects related to their question.

    The second tool obtains information from the owner’s manual, should the question not be answered from the knowledge repository. Users can select the vehicle model and year from the Owner’s Manuals Information tool, click search and it will provide the most relevant information related to a specific vehicle.

    Finally, should a suitable answer not have been found on the preceding steps, the system will use the Web Crawler function, which will provide links to all Ford official sites that could help with the query.

    A survey is incorporated into the Ask Ford page, giving users the opportunity to select a star rating and provide feedback so the system can be improved.

    Ask Ford is an intelligent system that learns through each use about related topics, and how best to provide relevant answers. This enables Ford to continually improve the user experience – thus the more it is used, the better it will get.