Four Questions: Talking Quality with Ford Motor Company

Every time I come back from ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI), I always say: “I wish I could bottle the excitement and passion of our members and participants. The energy would fuel us for a year and then some.” Of course, it’s not just the energy that makes WCQI so fantastic. It’s also the opportunity to meet and share ideas with thought leaders and visionaries who are raising the Global Voice of Quality, in a big way. One of them is Bennie Fowler, group vice president of quality and new model launch at Ford Motor Company, an ASQ Enterprise member.

Bennie, who was a featured speaker at the 2011 WCQI, is responsible for driving quality processes and discipline throughout the design and production of Ford vehicles. He graciously took some time to talk with me at the conference in May about raising the voice of quality at Ford. You can watch the interview, posted below. We divided it into four bite-size portions.

I was struck by Bennie’s remark that today, quality must focus on more than product—it must focus on the entire customer experience. How do you think the practice of quality has changed over the years? What can we learn from companies, such as Ford, that are putting quality at the top of their priorities?

Part 1: What’s Under the Hood at Ford?

Part 2: The Evolving Role of Quality

Part 3: Innovation

Part 4: Creating a Culture of Quality

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7 Responses to Four Questions: Talking Quality with Ford Motor Company

  1. My wife and I have been Ford owners ever since we first learned to drive – over 30 years ago. My first car was a 1970 Ford Torino; my wife’s first car was a Ford Maverick. We have owned Mustangs, Mustang II, Bronco IIs, Explorers, Ranger, Windstars, SportTrac, etc. We each, independently, made the mistake once of trying another brand, and we vowed never to repeat that mistake. My wife had purchased a brand new Jeep Wrangler, and while it was fun to ride, a piston blew out at just 30,000 miles – and Jeep refused to cover the repair. I once owned a Toyota small pick-up, which was a very good vehicle, and a 1/2 ton Dodge pick-up – that I absolutely hated. Today we own a windviel blue 2005 Mustang GT convertible and a 2008 Edge Limited (our second). We love them. Excellent design, styling, comfort, features, finish, and reliability.

    Our lone complaint with Ford is the lack of service consistency among their dealer network regarding service. The service department at our local Ford dealer is deplorable. Very unpredictable. Rarely have they diagnosed and resolved a problem upon the first visit. They are just not customer focused. We have driven out of our way, to a different Ford dealer in another town, just to receive the level of service and customer focus we deserve.

    I have the great fortune of having a neighbor who is the general manager of a car dealership for a competitive brand. His dealership is part of a network that owns car dealerships of just about every automobile manufacturer. Although I am not a fan of the brand, my neighbor provides exceptional customer service – to everyone in our neighborhood. He cheerfully exchanges vehicles for a day, regardless of the brand, to take a neighbor’s car in for an oil change, warranty work (he drives the neighbor’s car to the authorized dealer), routine service, and even major repairs. Furthermore, all of his employees offer the same level of service for their family, friends, customers and neighbors.

    We put our 2005 Mustang GT convertible in storage for the Minnesota winters. “Sally” (based on a 1966 song by Wilson Pickett) has never seen a snowflake. Every year for the last 6 years this same neighbor has provided me with a lease vehicle for the winter; sometimes new, sometimes gently used. While I am forever grateful to my neighbor for his creativity and resourcefulness to put me into these special lease vehicles, my experiences only further solidifies our brand loyalty to Ford Motor Company.

    Now, please work on your dealer network performance to improve the Total Customer Experience!

  2. Anshuman says:

    Great post Paul. I enjoyed the videos. Here is my response.

    So is Ford a Manufacturing company or a Service one? Read my views on

  3. Thanks to Bennie Fowler for his open and wonderful remarks about Ford’s ongoing journey. My response is now posted at
    I wrote about what I call the “EX Factors” in this journey. From EXpectations to EXperience; from EXpanding the meaning of quality, to EXecution of intended actions. Enjoy!

  4. Jim Smith says:

    Although I am not a FORD owner (but I do buy American made automobiles) I have been impressed, thus far, with FORD’s turn-around and what seems to be a renewed commitment to customer satisfaction and quality. Time will tell how the story comes out. American businesses haven’t been able to demonstrate continued commitment to delivering exceptional service and outstanding quality.