By Jonathan Welsh
Ford Motor Co. says it will make live help a standard feature of its Sync Services driver information search system. The new feature, called Operator Assist, will let Sync users speak to a live person when they have trouble navigating the system.
Voice-activated Sync Services provides news, traffic, sports, weather, stock quotes and other information and can also perform business searches and give turn-by-turn directions. Ford days 70% of calls to Sync are requests for business searches and directions. But Sync also has developed a reputation for confusing and confounding its users.
Under the revised system, customers can say “operator,” confirm the request, and then get help with searches and other information from an operator. In many ways, the feature is similar to the OnStar system that rival General Motors has offered for more than a decade.
“This isn’t just about offering customers a back-up option to the services we have already. This is about giving customers a variety of choices when it comes to how they would like to receive information,” said Doug VanDagens, director, Ford Connected Services Solutions Organization.
In July Ford said it was testing the system under which customers needing extra help with their Sync services could get operator assistance. The apparent rise in demand for operator assistance on the road suggests that many drivers still prefer to speak with a human when they are in a pinch.
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