By on January 17, 2012

Lincoln’s free-falling sales will apparently be remedied by allowing customers to watch their cars get serviced via smart phone, if you can stomach the party line coming from Ford marketing boss Jim Farley. Also outlined were Lincoln’s idea of “luxury” and powertrain details for the upcoming MKZ

First and foremost, the MKZ will get unique powertrains, and with the Fusion packing only 4-cylinders, this must mean a V6 engine is slated for the MKZ. Automotive News also detailed Lincoln’s new approach to customer service with Farley stating

“It’s as if some luxury brands have become big-box retailers, efficient and soulless, forgetting the hallmarks that made them special in the first place and leaving their clients feeling like a number and not a name,” 

Poor customer service and haughty sales people have never stopped aspirational strivers from buying luxury goods – sales staff at Saks or Neiman Marcus have a lot of attitude considering that they make minimum wage, but that won’t stop credit card jockeys from snapping up the latest branded crap sewn by Indonesian child labor. On the other hand, good sales people know that their wealthy clients often come in dressed like paupers because they couldn’t care less about “projecting an image of success” like so many status insecure upper-middle types.

The most peculiar passage in the entire article detailed a cockamaime plan where “… service bays at Lincoln dealerships will have cameras so customers can use their smartphones to watch the work being performed on their cars.” Based on anecdotal evidence gleaned through a couple decades of life experience, the sort of affluent, professional trend-setter types Lincoln is hoping to attract either don’t have the time or inclination to watch a grease-splattered Lincoln tech change the oil or bleed the brakes on their leased MKZ. This will surely be a costly initiative, and the money could have been spent in a million more productive ways aside from a stupid gimmick like this. If you are one of those types who wants to watch your car get a brake job via your iPhone, please let me know in the comments. For more laughable ideas, see the first paragraph of the Automotive News article where Lincoln’s negligible market-share is glossed over as a virtue of it being a “boutique brand”

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48 Comments on “Watching Your Car Get Serviced Via Smartphone An Integral Part Of Lincoln Strategy...”


  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    We have been discussing this brand for a few years, watching Lincoln sales go down the drain, listening to their hype, listening to their promises, and waiting to be proven that Lincoln has a pulse.

    I like Lincoln. But enough already.

    Lincoln was most successful when the cheapest brand were trying to copy them. Lincolns had every real and faux luxury gimmick in the Industry. They were what the 1970s and 1980s defined as luxury. That was a generation ago.

    Since then Lincoln has been chasing it’s tail. It dumped what it was, what made it Lincoln. They made some nice cars since, but they were not Lincolns in any traditional sense. The Town Car was the last real Lincoln, and it was little more than a gussied up Panther.

    Now that there isn’t any Town Car – there isn’t any Lincoln. They sold their legacy for a bunch of cars that look like characters from Moby Dick. When we called their vehicles “whales”, that was referring to their size and ride – not their appearance.

    Today’s Lincolns are neat cars. They just are not Lincolns. There is no tie to the old Lincoln legacy with them. Instead of making a big shouldered, rolling block of metal with traditional Lincoln luxury, they are making cars that are not distinguished in any way, except ugly.

    None of the Lincolns look “stately”. None of the Lincolns look like they can be used to impressed crowds. None of the Lincolns look like the official ride of a president or a CEO of a Fortune 500 organization. Lincolns used to look impressive. Now they look like they would fit into a Presbyterian church parking lot.

    Get a clue.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Half-vinyl roofs and opera windows, grills one foot ahead of the radiator, same-day-response steering and spongy ride, faux-wire-wheel hubcaps, Yves St Laurent tie-ins — where are the things that made Lincolns Lincolns?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I bought a year old car from a Ford dealer several years ago, and the battery was dead. The salesman said somebody must have left the dome light on, but I later found it was a short in the cigarette lighter. Anyway, they put a brand new battery in the car and I drove off. The next morning, the battery was dead. The reason it took only 14 hours for the short to completely kill the battery: the techs forgot to put electrolyte in the battery.

    I wouldn’t be particularly interested in watching the techs work on my car, but I would hope that the service manager and/or the certified mechanics were watching the techs.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Years ago, my mother had a Mark VI I believe. It had opera windows with a small light that was operated by a switch similar to a power window button. This light could be switched on and would stay on after the car was turned off – running the battery down hours later. My father had a ritual where he climbed into the back seat and checked both opera window lights (to be sure they were off) when parking overnight. Climbing into the back seat was not comfortable because the Mark was a 2-door – but it prevented battery rundown.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Neiman Marcus have a lot of attitude considering that they make minimum wage

    They are 100% commission and can make several 100k.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Everyone is wrapped up in “luxury”, which is flat-out the wrong word to go for. Buyers want “Premium” not “luxury”. Offer a car that accelerates better, corners harder, consumes less fuel, and is more comfortable than the proletariat brands and it will sell. Buying and Serivce departments that don’t give lip and do the job right are also an integral part, but not everything. there is a name for a vehicle that offers ‘luxury’ comfort over all other metrics. It’s called a coffin.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I can’t imagine anyone caring about this nor can I imagine dealers making the investment. How about something with more value-add: free maintenance that includes a service valet who picks your car up at home or at the office and returns it at the end of the day?

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Call me cynical again but my bet is that nobody with any customer service was allowed to interfere with the marketing process. The only folks who will watch the servicing ( after the first week of novelty) are the paranoid complainers who are going to misinterpret and second guess what they see.

    And, as we all know, some poor mechanic is going to say a bad word © or forget to zip his pants or something and the whole world will be laughing at Lincoln on Youtube.

    They’d have done better to scotch-tape a mint to the steering wheel or something.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      +1. Nailed it.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        +2, This annoys me as a tech. The MB dealership that I work at had to install one camera tied to a screen in the lounge because of new rules set by MB. It has led to several customers being pointlessly upset because a customer didn’t see “work” being performed on their vehicle while they were waiting. Must customers don’t realize that for most of their service visit I am waiting for parts, talking to service writers, looking up service information, etc.. and while I might not be under their hood doing “work” on their vehicle, I am still trying to get their car out as fast as possible so I can get on to the next one and actually earn some money. With concepts like this it gives customers the wrong idea. They want to believe we are all big and lazy, and sit around while their car sits. Anybody who knows how the flat rate system in which most US techs are paid works will know that unless we are working, we are not making money.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Actually if they really wanted to make it more unique, then give Lincolns a 7yr/ 100000 mile warranty. Free maintenance for the first 4 years. This would be a huge piece of mind to the driver that has those six year and seven year loans. After about two product cycles of all vehicles folks might consider them more often.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 – extending the warranty helped Hyundai and Kia improve their image. It is not sufficient in of itself but is a good differentiator.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I doubt it. I don’t think the warranty had nearly as much to do with Hyundai’s success as many around here do. The PRODUCT is why they have had success, all the warranty did is make it slightly easier for a fence sitter to take a chance. And given the stories I have heard, that warranty is worth a lot more in theory than it is in fact, as they are masters at denying claims.

      I do agree that a Lincoln should have a better warranty than a Ford, and free servicing too. Mostly because that is now the norm for all of the premium brands.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Lincoln already has this. Ford’s warranty is 3/36,000 bumper to bumper and 5/60,000 powertrain, Lincoln’s is 4/50,000 bumper to bumper and 6/70,000 powertrain. Lincoln also currently has free scheduled maintenance for the first 4/50,000, plus free rental cars and free carwashes when you bring it in for service.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    In my mind, the average Lincoln owner has a Jitterbug, not an iPhone…

  • avatar

    Hey, some people just like to watch.

    Not my thing, but who am I to judge?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think the fundamental issue is that you cannot have a premium car sharing the platform and engineering of a mass-market car 1/2 its price. That used to fly when the things that distinguished “luxury” was power windows and door locks, maybe a sunroof. Today even the cheapest cars have all of those features.

    What I (and I don’t think I am THAT unusual) look for in a truly premium car is advanced engineering. Like advanced safety systems, integration of systems, suspension, and RWD. Or AWD based on a RWD chassis. But not necessarily “toys”.

    If Ford really wants to make Lincoln into a premium player, they need to invest in some uniquely Lincoln hardware. Tarted up Fords will not do it, if that is all they are going to do the should have killed Lincoln and kept Mercury alive.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      It works for VW/Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        Works for Lexus/Toyota as well. They do however have three unique platforms but everything else is borrowed for Yota.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @srogers and @Chocolate Death

        I think there is a continuum from the truly premium brands to the truly mass-market brands. To me, BMW and Mercedes are the most purely “Premium” brands – I am not counting the sundry exotics, lets say you need to sell close 1M cars a year to play. They have no car platforms that are shared with lesser brands. BMW has no shared platforms of any kind with any other brands, even thier lower end FWD platforms are currently sold under a completely seperate organization. MB has their shared SUV platform of course.

        Only slightly lower down the continuum is Audi, which has some slight platform sharing within VAG at the low end, and Lamborghini at the high end, but is NOTHING like the current situation at Lincoln, where a MKZ truly is just a rebadged Fusion. Audi competes very successfully with BMW/MB. Lexus is at a similar level, mostly bespoke platforms, but the cheap entry level car is fundamentally a V6 Camry, and the SUVs are rebadged Toyotas. Infinity is in here somewhere too – they really seem to be ALMOST there, but can never quite get to the next level for some reason. Cadillac is almost there too – they have a great mid-sizer, what looks to be a great entry level car, but what is supposed to be the thier top tier is just junk. They are kind of the opposite of Lexus and Audi in that way.

        Lower still is the sort of no man’s land occupied by the likes of Volvo, the dearly departed Saab, Lincoln, Acura, and Buick. Niether fish nor fowl and a damned tough place to make a living, because cheaper cars have all the same toys, but the real premium cars are not that much more expensive. These cars do not really have the bespoke engineering to compete with the best. Audi successfully got out of this space, and Volvo has a pretty good chance too, I think, if thier new owners keep the investment money flowing. Saab was an obvious failure here, due entirely to GM NOT keeping the investment money flowing.

        Note too that I think it is possible for non-premium brands to have premium individual products – VW Phaeton, the current Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Corvette, as examples. Or the various premium Lexus cars that were sold as Toyotas in the rest of the world. But again, they are either bespoke, or share a platform with a much more premium brand product. I guess you could say the flip side is equally possible – the Audi A3 is not nearly as premium as the rest of thier cars, nor is the ES350 any better than a Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      @krhodes1,

      not true about BMW platform sharing. You were looking at the wrong end – cheap platforms. Look opposite way: Rolls-Royce Ghost is sharing (albeit heavily modified) platform with F01 7-Series BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And I specifically said the exotics don’t count, AND no platforms shared with lesser brands. Who cares if BMW is sharing the platform of a $150K car with a $350K car? The issue is using the platform of a $20K car to make a $40K car, and BMW does not do that. Fundamentally, a RR Ghost is a 7-series with a $200K boob job. But you do win on a technicality.

      • 0 avatar
        Bimmer

        Please explain how’s a 7-Series giving its platform to a Rolls-Royce differs from a Fusion donating its platform to a MKZ? Since in either case it’s not lesser brand that gets, but gives its platform.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Because the 7-series is already at the pinnacle of the premium brand heap. So how does using its mechanicals and sundry electronics for the basis of an exotic matter in the slightest?

        A Fusion is in no way premium, it is a bog-standard FWD cheap family hack. The new one looks to be a nice piece, but it is still no 3-series. Or C-class. Or A4. It has “premiumness”, but it is not premium.

        It is unlikely that anything based on a Fusion is going to compete with a 3-series or an A4. Note that Ford essentially tried this with the Jaguar X-type. And the Mondeo that was based on was lightyears ahead of the equivalent Ford USA product at the time. At best you could make something that competes with a Buick that is based on a platform shared with Chevrolet. Or Opel. I suppose Ford could work a miracle, but history says probably not. Cadillac is SERIOUS about competing with the Germans – the ATS and CTS are proof of that. Lincoln? Not so much

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The Acura TSX is basically a Euro market Accord with a nicer interior, and it seems to receive positive press as a premium vehicle.

        As far as competing with the 3 series goes, it probably depends on how you mean it to compete. The new MKZ will offer the new rear biased AWD system, so that will hopefully win over those who are FWD averse, and it will have Lincoln’s upcoming active suspension control, which will give it the engineering edge not found in mainstream vehicles. BMW had been fine tuning the handling and sporting nature of the 3 series for decades, so I’m not picking the new MKZ to win there, but it should come much closer than the current car. As far as interior quality goes, if it rises to the level of the current MKX (the most recently redone Lincoln model) it will match anything BMW has to offer.

        You also have price to look at – the current 2012 MKZ starts at about $35,500. If you option out a BMW 328i with the same equipment that the MKZ comes with standard it comes to about $41,500. I’m guessing that the new MKZ will likely increase in price somewhat, and have much less in the way of incentives, but for a buyer who wants the luxury appointments and features, but doesn’t place a priority on having a German sports sedan, the MKZ is a solid value.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Will, so glad I’m not a tech at a Lincoln/Ford dealer (actually, just glad I don’t work for a dealer period…..)

    Hate it when people want to watch me work. Not that I have anything to hide, but when people no nothing of what you’re doing, they want to question your every move, and then you have to explain why what you’re doing is what needs to be done. Gets kind of hard to really focus on the task at hand.

  • avatar

    For the reasons mentioned by a few people in this thread, and a few more as well (what you’ll often see is your car sitting there, with no one working on it), I’ll be very surprised if this ever actually happens. But if it’s not going to happen, why did Farley bring it up?

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    You might want to watch the engine in your 911 being rebuilt… but watching them change the oil in you MKXYZ? (HAH!)

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    After reading the AN article, I was not under the impression that watching your car in the service bay via webcam was an “integral” part of Lincoln’s strategy. If Farley really is that delusional, he had better start preparing his resume. It was practically a footnote at the end of the article. At best, it is a small, peculiar feature that nearly nobody will use. It is asking for all sorts of legal trouble and I’d bet it doesn’t get beyond test market trials.

    The article does mention Lincoln applying the customer service liberally by assigning 2 greeters per customer. I think that is a step in the right direction. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were at places that threw 5 different people at your table – hostess, waiter, water/bread guy, somellier, pepper boy, owner, someone who scrapes the crumbs off after each course, etc. The food was about the same as the place next door, but the service experience made a huge difference. If Lincoln can get the styling right and improve the customer experience, they may just gain some ground.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Gimmicks like this will only result in laughs to the face, not sales. Lincoln is not in good hands.

  • avatar
    jeanpierresarti

    Frankly, it is easier for a car makers to make money by stuffing cars full of high margin electronic crap then, you know, actually engineer the better car…

  • avatar
    gessvt

    I’m still baffled by the decision to deep six the Lincoln LS. Somehow they couldn’t figure out a way to develop an exclusive (T-Bird notwithstanding) RWD platform. THAT’S what differentiates a premium brand.

    Amazing.

  • avatar
    LessRantingPls

    Lincoln is meeting its sad end because it’s a captive brand with no budget and is not allowed to compete with Ford. It can only differentiate itself with style and/or customer service, and let’s face it, Lincolns look worse than their parent Fords. Customer service: I expect great service whether I’m driving a Focus or a Platinum F-150. So where’s the differentiator?

    The trouble is that all brands have stepped up their game so much, and luxury options are cheap enough, that there is nothing that makes me want to go to any luxury brand unless the actual automobile looks great or drives better than the competition.

    I’m not insecure enough to need a Lincoln over a Ford to show my neighbors. In fact, I’m insecure enough to worry that my neighbors will think I’m an idiot for buying the same car for more money. Solve that, Lincoln.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    The nature of the service environment can be easily misunderstood by many of those bringing their vehicles in for maintenance. A highly competent and well trained staff can enjoy a little humor and joking around while doing a perfectly good job on their assigned vehicle. As mentioned, technicians are often called away to assist on other projects, while working on a car in the bay, and very few jobs are completed in a single stretch of time. Farley’s idea just opens up an unnecessary can of worms that would get little support from either dealers or technicians. Considering the amount of investment Ford is requiring dealers to make just to keep the Lincoln franchise, I would think this idea would be somewhat of a “last straw” for many dealers. Then Farley can brag even more about the boutique-level sales figures, as the number of dealerships continue to fall.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    No one wants Lincoln to succeed more than I do. I agree with Vanilla Dude, no Town Car, no Lincoln. And enough with the whale grills already!
    And check out the photos of the 70′s stretch Lincolns in Kim Jong Il’s funeral procession. If they can impress me, imagine what the average starving North Korean must have thought of them! (I’m guessing maybe the Lincoln nameplates had been removed.)

  • avatar

    they better have something up their sleeve. That grill sure is UGLY!

    Oops! I see willbodine beat me to it.

    But seriously, watching your car get serviced on your smartfone???! I don’t think so! Maybe they should have snail races in the waiting area. That would be a little more interesting.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    The few times I have had to bring one of our MKZ’s in for warranty work they hand me the keys to a nearly Lincoln loaner. Once I got an MKZ with less than 10 miles on it and once I got a Mustang Convertible with less than 10 miles on it and they apologized repeatedly because it was not a Lincoln. So, when I get work done on the Lincoln I have no interst in watching it get done or having it done quickly. I bring it in on Friday afternoon on purpose …

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Now that’s the kind of customer service they should get behind! The watching your car serviced in your smartphone is just gimmick, generally useless and will lead only to dissatisfied customers when they saw what is done to their cars in the service bays!

      But that also highlight the problem that Lincolns have: No exciting cars. If you already own a MKZ and you bring the car back to the dealers for servicing and got another MKZ as a loaner, what’s exciting about that? You already own one. The exciting part is when you got a Mustang convertible, which they had to apoligize profusely for because it’s not a lincoln. Even if you got a MKS as the loaner, it’s not much different than a MKZ. In fact there are no Lincoln product that one could aspire to, at least not if you can already afford one. THe only people who would be excited to get a Lincoln loaner is those who drive a decades old Ford Escort or Tempos.

      • 0 avatar
        npbheights

        Our MKZ’s are first generation models and the loaners are second generation models, which have a different look inside and out and a surprisingly different feel when you drive them considering that they were just an update of the existing platform. I have driven a MKS and that is a completely different experience. It’s a much bigger car. I have driven a 2011 Fusion V6 and would not even consider owning one, the interior looked really cheap compared to the MKZ (old or new). Also, Lincolns being upgraded Fords becomes a positive trait when they get older. Most of the things you don’t see, like brake parts and under hood stuff are identicle to Fords and are priced accordingly. It makes it much more affordable to own a classic Lincoln than a classic Cadillac (I have owned both). When people rant on here that Lincolns are redundant to Fords I know that they don’t own one and that it’s a pretty sure bet that they have not even been in one.
        Oh, and the Mustang was nice but I disliked the coal bin (black and charcoal) interior, the seats were uncomfortable, and it felt like i was sitting really low in the car. It need to be a few inches longer, better taller seats, an upgraded interior, and an Independent rear suspension … In other words, it needed to be a Mark IX.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    “On the other hand, good sales people know that their wealthy clients often come in dressed like paupers because they couldn’t care less about “projecting an image of success” like so many status insecure upper-middle types.”

    An amazingly astute observation. I give a cheer for at least one Gen-Yer’s ability to see through the bullsh*t.


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