Today’s discussions about technology and business often go back to the same buzzword: artificial intelligence.
With nearly three-quarters of dealers expressing interest in adopting AI at some point, it’s clear most have accepted its forthcoming promise to change business as we know it.
As consumers themselves, most dealers are familiar with AI’s customer-facing benefits, such as Netflix’s show recommendations or even Gmail’s spam filters. However, the benefits for some businesses, especially one as specialized as a car dealership, can seem less clear.
Luckily, AI isn’t just for the benefit of the customer. In fact, those who pursue their interest in adopting AI at their dealership can expect business and bottom line to change (for the better) in five key ways.
1. Improved Customer Retention and Loyalty
No matter how you slice or dice it, AI is instrumental in predicting and providing customer information that allows for the fast, efficient and personalized experience customers expect.
By improving their experience and in turn, the dealership’s relationship with them, the probability of return business increases.
Sales customers will be more likely to turn into service customers, and they are more likely to recommend the dealership to their friends, creating even more loyal customers. A steady customer base can be the difference between a good and a great quarter or keep the dealership afloat in a slump.
2. Create Additional Revenue and Increase Sales
AI helps identify sales opportunities that would likely go unnoticed with a more analog approach.
AI can use online and offline behavior and lifestyle data to flag automotive customers whose activity indicates that they are ready to buy and inform the salesperson about what inventory they will respond to.
A good AI tool will also vet the engagement strength of an active lead by aggregating interactions logged in the CRM. This level of insight allows sales teams to identify new customers, pursue the most viable leads and most importantly close more deals.
3. Lower Marketing and Sales Costs
In a climate where personalization is standard, the days of blanketed mass marketing tactics are long gone.
AI can help dealers customize email, banner ads, texts and other marketing efforts to target the right customers at the right time – with specific inventory, offers and details that data proves they’re interested in.
This more precise approach isn’t only cheaper, faster and easier, it’s also a more effective way to generate leads and make deals than is a mailer or cold calling.
4. Getting Time Back
Time is money and failing to address operational inefficiencies is a good way to lose both.
By using AI insights, sales teams can be smarter about how they spend their time. For instance, knowing where customers are in the buying cycle or the level of their engagement can save valuable days chasing bad leads.
AI can even generate customer sentiment, giving sales reps real-time feedback about how a deal is going and giving managers the information needed to coach staffers to do better next time.
AI speed up the buying process altogether, creating the ultimate efficiency. Indeed, 72% of dealers surveyed agree automation and AI allow their dealership staff to focus time on other areas of the business.
5. Gain a Competitive Advantage
A whopping 79% of businesses plan to use AI by 2021, meaning customer expectations are only going to heighten with time.
While it can be tempting to ignore the signs with an “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” attitude, dealers who don’t adopt AI risk being left behind. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Chase Abbott, left)
Those who do use it (and soon) will have a leg up. In an increasingly tight market, now is the time to implement an AI solution, and reap the operational benefits.
Chase Abbott is vice president-sales at VinSolutions and Dealer.com and of digital retailing at parent company Cox Automotive. He is the author of a new book, “Accelerating Sales with Artificial Intelligence: Employing Intelligent Tech to Improve the Auto Buying Process.”