Ford, Panasonic Testing An Automated ‘Smart Service Kiosk’

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Ford is trying to reduce the hassle of automobile servicing for the customer, by partnering with Panasonic to test a new, automated “Smart Service Kiosk” that will enable owners to simply drop their keys into a bin at Ford dealer service centers, enter some basic information using a simple digital interface, and be on their merry way.

The process works like this: a Ford owner takes his or her vehicle to the dealership at any time – morning, noon, or night. They then start by entering their name and address into the Smart Service Kiosk using an embedded touchscreen or by scanning the QR code on their driver’s license, followed by their email and phone number. Then, they enter information on the vehicle, create a PIN for later, select the services required from a menu, and deposit their key. Owners also have the option of providing more-detailed comments on their vehicle’s needs if necessary.

Ford’s Smart Service Kiosk can also be used by customers to secure a loaner vehicle while their own car is being serviced. When Ford service technicians finish working on the vehicle, the owner will receive an email confirmation and a QR code that can be used to pay any outstanding fees and retrieve the vehicle at any time. They just need to be sure they remember their PIN.

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Ford and Panasonic kicked off a 90-day trial of the new Smart Service Kiosk at LaFontaine Ford in Birch Run, Michigan back in January. The two companies will assess the results of the test before figuring out where to go next, whether that be an additional round of testing, or a nationwide deployment.

“At Ford, our goal always is to make customers’ lives better, through both our products and services,” says Ford Global Distribution Strategy Director Brad Brownell. “Smart Service Kiosk enables Ford customers to drop off, pick up, select and pay for their vehicle service on their time, whether it’s outside of dealership service hours or to avoid waiting in line if the service staff is busy.”

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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