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AI & Automation in the Automotive Industry

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Koby Jackson

The automotive industry is rapidly changing. One of the key drivers of this change?  Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. We’re seeing AI and sales automations being used to improve everything from manufacturing to sales and marketing. However, I’m noticing a pattern: these technologies are having a negative impact on our industry, and are not being used correctly.

The Role of the Salesperson or the Death of the Dealership

We recently lost several dealerships to an AI sales system. To me, it’s gut wrenching to lose anyone. However, it’s especially painful to see how many of our dealerships think that they can remove the sales person from the sales process. Have they completely forgotten how we got to where we are today?

Don’t get me wrong. Calldrip is actively leveraging technology, including AI, to offer automations and innovations. I know how powerful they are for unlocking growth opportunities for dealerships. But broadly speaking, how some of these AI tools are implemented and used does trouble me.

Over the last decade, we’ve learned so much about customer service and success. Yet now, we seem to be willfully forgetting that. I hate that a number of us are going back in time forgetting everything we have learned about customer service. Years of effort and progress is going down the drain, replaced with some of the poorest sales experiences people this industry have ever seen. When did anyone think it's better to let a customer speak to a BOT than a real living,life breathing sales professional?

What I am seeing - and my passion for our industry - is forcing me to speak out.  I see so many problems coming at us faster than ever before. My hope is that by sharing these concerns, and offering my recommendations, our industry will be better equipped to harness opportunities enabled by AI without sacrificing our customers.

Poor Customer Experience

One of the biggest challenges with AI is that it’s already led to poor customer experiences. When customers interact with these bots or automated systems, it’s easy for them to feel unheard or misunderstood. 

When was the last time you tried to get a real answer to a specific challenge from a chat bot or automated phone system? How did that feel?

While the automated conversation approach has its place, it can quickly lead to frustration and a loss of trust if a customer is facing a specific, personal, or complex challenge. Isn’t that always the case with buying a car? Automotive industry veterans know that every customer situation is different - and that means every sales conversation is different.

No Relationship Building

In addition, it makes it difficult for salespeople to build critical relationships with customers. When salespeople are not able to connect with customers on a personal level, they are less likely to close deals. The research consistently shows that people like to buy from people.

AI driven automated sales processes make it difficult for salespeople to tailor their pitches to individual customers. The result? Sales suffer.

Sales Processes Deteriorate

These AI solutions are creating the poorest sales processes we have ever seen. When sales processes are entirely automated, they can become incredibly inflexible. AI makes it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions - or even be aware they have changed.

The last few years have taught us the value of being agile. I worry that defining every process to the nth degree will lead our sales processes to become less responsive to the very real, and very important, needs of the consumer.

4 Tips for AI, Done Right

The automotive industry needs to be careful about how it uses AI and automation. This technology can be a powerful force for good, but we need to be aware of the risks, too. We as an industry need to find a way to use AI and automations that enhance relationship building and sales processes. If the industry can do this, the future is very bright. On the other hand, we could quickly see an end of sales as we know it.

Here are some tips for the automotive industry on how to use AI and automation to improve relationship building and sales processes:

  • Solve for human connection. We’ve explicitly designed AI and automation to generate more personal connections. For example, we’re leveraging AI and automations to automatically engage the right salesperson to assist with the customer’s needs, in real-time.
  • Personalize the customer experience. AI can be used to personalize the customer experience. For example, AI should be used to reconnect with customers who have become unresponsive. However, once the engagement happens, bring the sales person into the sales processes immediately. 
  • Empower salespeople. AI can be used to empower salespeople and free them up to focus on what they do best: selling. A few use cases include providing real-time customer insights, in the moment coaching tips, and even creating tailored pitches to individual customers which result in more deals and customer loyalty.
  • Be flexible. Automation should not be used in a manner that creates a strict sales process. We should be flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs. Real sales professionals ensure sales are not lost due to unforeseen circumstances.

The automotive industry is at a crossroads. It can either embrace AI and automation and use it to our advantage, never forgetting how real meaningful relationships are built and fostered. Or, we can implement tools we barely understand to destroy customer experience and ruin brand equity. 

Let’s make a commitment to embrace AI to deliver more human connections in the sales process, not less. It is possible to use these technologies to our advantage and build relationships with customers, understand their needs, close more deals, and build our brand loyalty. Will you? 

To learn how Calldrip AI can help improve performance and deliver a better customer experience - Click Here to Explore the Possibilities.

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