Can artificial intelligence help dealers increase car sales?

In this article, we examine how AI is transforming motor retail

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming virtually every aspect of everyday life, both at home and in the workplace. Utilising computers and data to simulate human intelligence processes that include learning, reasoning and self-correction, AI is already transforming the automotive industry in areas such as autonomous driving technology, connectivity, new product development and smarter, more flexible production methods.

Simple queries and FAQs are picked-up by self-intuitive platforms such as chatbots integrated with AI. But people will continue to play an essential role in strategic areas such as lead generation and customer retention.

Alongside vehicle manufacturing, AI is also being used to drive efficiencies in the motor retail sector, helping dealers to boost sales through more efficient lead generation, customer enquiry handling, aftersales, and vehicle and parts inventory management. A study by the Capgemini Research Institute found that, at the macro level, AI is being employed on a global scale to understand and react to market trends. Manufacturers such as Volkswagen, for example, are applying AI to accurately predict vehicle sales across 250 models in 120 markets.

In addition to tracking global sales trends, AI also provides the opportunity for manufacturers and dealers at national and local level to monitor customer behaviour and their experience across multiple communication channels and when appropriate, interact with a customer. Analysing consumer visits to websites provides a good example as it shows how people navigate and the areas they dwell on, such as specification data or a car configurator, where the potential to buy may be strongest. This in turn provides the opportunity to trigger a proactive and timely intervention tailored to specific needs, such as the offer of a ‘live chat’ facility and a direct link to the prospect’s local dealer.

The same AI-led approach also provides the opportunity for dealers to strengthen their overall customer experience to support retention, aftersales performance and business reputation. Growing prominence of AI in this area also confirms that an increasing number of manufacturers and dealers now recognise that premium quality customer service lies at the heart of an automotive brand’s identity. Research from Deloitte confirms this, reporting that 62% of businesses in the automotive sector now see that providing outstanding customer experience is an essential differentiator.

As the use of AI expands, it is obvious that it will change the motor industry’s employment structure, as some human interactions are replaced by automated processes. However, as David Morton, Sales & Solutions Director at Arvato CRM Solutions explains in a recent trade press article, the human element of customer experience remains crucial:

“Roles will change as more transactional work, such as simple queries and FAQs are picked-up by self-intuitive platforms such as chatbots integrated with AI. But people will continue to play an essential role in strategic areas such as lead generation and customer retention and deliver the detailed, hands-on advice that car buyers seek.”

He continues: “As technology becomes more sophisticated, staff in dealerships and contact centres will be supported rather than replaced by technology. The suite of digital assistants, for example, will empower employees to higher-value and more personalised conversations with customers.”

While the growth of AI may be presented as a potential threat to wider employment in the mainstream, in the motor industry it appears to be the opposite. AI presents the opportunity for dealers to boost customer satisfaction by creating an environment where the services employees provide are enhanced by technology that helps them to make the most of every customer interaction and ultimately increase car sales.

 

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