In response to falling ratings on the JD Power and Associates Initial Quality ratings, largely due to issues relating to unreliable voice commands on it’s much touted Sync system; Ford Motor Company is taking a leaf out of General Motors’ book by looking at adding live operators to the service.
During the course of this summer, Ford is testing what it calls ‘Operator Assist’ essentially a service that connects drivers with a real person if they’re having problems getting directions or asking commands after three attempts with the automated Sync system.
By the Fall, the company is expected to make a decision as to whether it will go ahead with Operator Assist on a full-time basis. If that proves to be the case, Ford says existing Sync Service customers won’t need any new software to access an operator and the additional service will be provided at no cost for a period of three years. After that customers would be billed an annual fee of $60, according to Ford spokesman Alan Hall.
This new strategy represents an almost about turn in Ford’s approach to Sync, when it was first launched in 2007. Originally it was designed to keep driver’s eyes on the road by using voice activated commands for features ranging from hands free calling, to vehicle functions, directions and even finding points of interest.
However the software, despite upgrades continues to have problems recognizing certain accents and commands, causing frustration among a number of motorists. Given how successful GM’s OnStar program has been since its introduction in 1996 (around half of all OnStar customers continue with subscription once their trial period is up), the idea of Ford adopting live agents, might prove a very good move.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]