Artificial intelligence has become a part of our lives in more ways than one. Several industries today rely on AI-powered chatbots to handle their customer support by providing 24/7 query resolution to customers. The automotive industry is no different. More and more car dealerships are looking beyond manufacturing innovations to invest in customer-centric solutions like chatbots and voice assistants that offer personalized shopping experiences and better support.
AI-Powered Chatbots in the Automotive Industry
According to a Capgemini survey of over 12,000 consumers and 1,000 executives from various industries, less than 50% of automotive companies use AI-enabled voice or chat assistants to engage their customers better. However, in the same survey, nearly 70% of the customers expressed their willingness to replace visits to the automotive dealer, store, or bank with AI-enabled assistants.
Like every other industry, chatbots have the power to transform the automotive industry, especially in customer-facing roles. AI-powered chatbots can offer personalized shopping experiences by matching individuals with the right type of vehicles, providing on-demand customer services that are swift and reliable, and improved after-sales services. AI-driven systems can also report the performance of equipment and parts to the manufacturer regularly, and send pre-emptive inspection or repair notifications to users to prevent accidents or damage. Many automobile companies also use AI-based messengers in their infotainment systems for better user experience and customer delight.
Here are some ways in which chatbots are transforming the car industry:
1. Hassle-free Sales Conversations
Car dealers offer tons of information on their digital interfaces like websites and social media to help potential customers in the early stages of the car buying process. However, this information is often all too much for the customers to absorb, and dealerships that can connect and assist customers at this stage are the ones that end up with maximum sales and popularity.
By deploying their chatbots live in apps like Facebook Messenger, dealers can reach out to a broad audience, generate awareness, and simplify the way their prospects research and assimilate information. With such a feature, a customer can simultaneously chat with a friend on Facebook while checking the estimated trade-in value of his or her car and setting an appointment for a test drive with a bot. Chatbots can also be trained to answer questions regarding the make and performance of various vehicles and other common queries.
Besides assisting buyers in the information and consideration phases, a bot also ensures intelligent engagement by not asking buyers to fill up lengthy forms or share unnecessary information. Most users are skeptical of filling contact forms as they don’t want to be spammed. AI dispenses with this requirement by doing most of the groundwork of collating information on forms from multiple sources instead of asking consumers to fill them up.
2. Reduced Wait Times
Today, customers are used to instant gratification – be it same day deliveries or immediate query resolution. The same holds for the automotive industry, and, to remain competitive, automotive dealers must invest in more convenient solutions like chatbots to cater to the growing customer expectations of personalized, 24/7 support.
In general, most buyers complain of long waiting times once they reach a dealership to assess a vehicle for purchase. Chatbots eliminate this step by automating the entire process – providing buyers with the information they need to make a better choice on their automobile from the comfort of their homes.
A conversational chatbot can also provide intelligent suggestions and customized offers to users based on their browsing history and behavior.
3. Reduced Costs
Research indicates that chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion annually by 2022 by automating people-intensive processes like customer support, sales and marketing, and after-sales service. For example, automation in customer service can save significant expenditure in hiring and training multiple customer service agents and providing faster query resolution to customers. In the automotive industry, chatbots also reduce costs on the fixed operations side through end-to-end concierge services like scheduling maintenance and service appointments.
4. Smooth After-sales Service
An average American spends a little under $400 on car repair and maintenance each year. However, most of this business ends up going to local mechanics instead of car dealerships, which is lost money for automotive dealers. Chatbots can change this situation by increasing customer engagement by automating the delivery chain’s various aspects – from information gathering and consideration to after-sales service.
For example, customers often have to wait on the phone for several minutes before connecting with an agent to schedule an appointment. Most customers also want a cost and time estimate, which may add several more minutes to their wait time. Chatbots can automate all these steps, enabling customers to schedule appointments and receive the estimates they need in just a few seconds. In fact, dealerships can also use chatbots to remind customers about their upcoming vehicle maintenance through social media platforms that they use regularly. In this case, booking an appointment becomes as easy as responding to the bot’s message, and the customer also receives regular reminders once the meeting is fixed.
The result is a win-win situation for everyone: better response times and service for buyers and long-lasting client relations for dealers.
The chatbot revolution in the automotive industry will save time and money for all the stakeholders and build tighter relationships between customers and car dealerships, leading to more personalized and meaningful interactions in the future. One can also expect the application of chatbots for vehicle diagnostic purposes in a few years, such as checking the fuel levels based on fuel consumption, verifying whether the vehicle is performing properly, and scheduling repairs or inspections accordingly.
Laduram Vishnoi is CEO and Founder at Acquire. He loves to share his research and development on Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural network and deep learning.