Consumer shopping habits have changed during the global pandemic, and auto dealerships are quickly pivoting to seize new sales opportunities in this rapidly evolving environment.
Specifically, the online car shopping trend that already was building is now in hyper-growth. Savvy dealerships are investing in their digital presence to capture potential customers and provide an experience that matches or exceeds shopping in-person. To that end, automotive companies are deploying chatBOTs to meet the demands and volume of an increasingly digital world.
With a projected worldwide market size of more than $1.3 billion by 2024, chatBOTs will be a driving force for business communications.
Capturing potential customers in a virtual environment is all about compelling, sustained engagement. It’s important to create an experience where customers can engage 24/7, whenever they want, from anywhere.
Dealerships should consider using technology such as text and video chat, co-browsing, screen sharing and file sharing technologies that create a personal bond between potential car buyers and sales staff.
Deploying AI-powered chatBOTs can be the first step in an engagement strategy for automotive dealerships. Here are a few reasons why chatBOTs are key to creating the best possible experience for customers who are taking part, or all, of their car buying journey online.
As the consumer world becomes increasingly digital, shoppers want to find information easily and have questions answered at any time of the day or night. Conversational AI can immediately engage visitors on a dealer’s website.
Today’s car buyers most often are doing their research between 6 p.m.-10 p.m., so evening and after-hours can be the busiest and most valuable period for dealerships to attract and engage car shoppers.
More dealerships are providing some live agents in the evening to handle inquiries via live text and video chat that chatBOTs can’t. But even if a human is not available, chatBOTs are there 24/7 to answer customer queries, co-browse to car specs on the website, book test drives or schedule a meeting with a live agent or service appointment at the customer’s convenience.
In addition to addressing specific requests, chatBOTs can prompt a visitor to engage with a special offer or additional information.
For example, a nudgeBOT can initiate a simple conversation at the right point in a customer’s journey – starting with “Welcome” or “Would you like to see our latest offers?” The job of the nudgeBOT is to interpret the visitor’s behavior and deliver the right messages by using customer journey analytics.
Once conversational AI is engaged, it can assess the shopper’s needs and offer a quick path to meeting them. Many website visitors are simply looking for quick answers to common questions.
For example, chatBOTs can effectively provide answers or co-browse the buyer to the relevant website page for more information.
ChatBOTs enable an entire customer interaction to be addressed by self-service. It’s important to note these chatBOTs become smarter over time with the ability to learn. By streamlining common requests, call volume is reduced and more time is freed up for live agents to assist customers with more complex questions or sales opportunities.
When human assistance is required, chatBOTs can seamlessly transfer the customer to a live agent for a text, voice or video chat. The initial chatBOT engagement expedites resolutions by gathering relevant information up front and quickly routing the customer to the right person.
ChatBOTs can be trained to collect key contextual information so that when the customer connects with the live agent, that agent has all the background details and can move quickly to meet the customer’s needs.
Early chatBOT technology had a reputation for being clunky and ineffective, but today’s conversational AI chatBOTS are much more sophisticated. ChatBOTs are powerful tools in the auto dealer’s online engagement arsenal, providing real value in the customer journey.
No longer just a trendy technology, an effective chatBOT strategy gives customers a convenient avenue to solve simple requests, freeing up agents to take care of complex problems, and creating a satisfying experience that can build brand loyalty and increase sales. ChatBOTs can draw together other elements of a live engagement strategy to create a shopping experience that delights car shoppers and inspires them to come back.
Joseph Noonan (pictured above, left) is CEO of Vee24, a conversational multi-experience customer engagement business.