Despite impressions of lagging behind in innovation, automotive dealerships are becoming increasingly tech-savvy as they adopt Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) for Automotive Sales and Service. These virtual team members, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation, are becoming mainstays for dealerships looking to attract and retain customers.
During a recent episode of the Modern Marketing Engine podcast, host Bernie Borges talks with Micah Burgess (VP of Sales at Conversica) about the use of IVAs to tackle Marketing, Inside Sales and Service groups within dealerships. Of course, the embracing of IVAs is only one aspect of this evolving industry. Below are a few reasons why automotive businesses are now thinking more like other businesses.
Automotive: An Evolving Industry
Micah Burgess has worked in the automotive industry for roughly 15 years. And in that time, he’s seen some big changes in the way Auto professionals manage and operate their dealerships.
Micah stresses that “it’s not just the car business anymore, you’re in business now,” meaning that industry is evolving away from traditional ways of doing things to more closely match how other industries manage and operate their businesses. As the automotive industry absorbs this “business mindset,” it transforms the way dealerships approach Marketing and Sales, Human Resources and tech adoption.
Similarly, the large dealership groups are looking beyond veterans of the auto industry for new hires. Now they are also bringing on top talent from Fortune 500 companies, banking, technology and external industries to help drive their entire business models towards greater success and profitability. This kind of multi-industry expertise trickles through to mid-market and SMB dealerships too.
While traditional marketing methods — including mailers or newspaper, TV and radio ads — still have their place, especially in the midwest, the industry is more interested in data-driven marketing initiatives. “Unless a customer comes in with a newspaper ad folder in their pocket, it’s tough to say where that customer came from, from an ROI perspective,” Micah says.
As dealers become more data-driven — and customers expect more digital opportunities — they want to know how their money is being spent and what return on investment they should expect. “Now data is more important [for the automotive industry] than it has ever been,” Micah says. “We are seeing these dealerships and dealership groups leverage data to better attract and convert customers.”
Ensuring a More Efficient Sales and Marketing Process
Inbound leads are the backbone of the automotive industry. In years past, the typical shopper would visit their local dealership on the weekend to inspect different models, compare prices and take a test drive. Today, the vast majority of that process happens online. A consumer starts their journey by researching different car models online, requests a quote via lead forms through several different dealerships, then compares their options as they come through emails or texts. Following up with leads the moment they express interest is essential, since the first dealership to respond to a prospect is most likely to secure a closed deal.
Of course, there are often more leads than Sales teams know what to do with. And following up with hundreds or even thousands of leads in a timely and personalized manner is not humanly possible. The same thing can be said for Service departments looking to bring in car owners who generally need multiple reminders to motivate them to schedule a vehicle repair or routine maintenance.
To better manage inbound leads or outgoing service reminders to past customers, dealerships are adopting technologies like the Conversica Automotive Sales AI Assistant and Automotive Service AI Assistant. Historically, the auto industry was slow to adopt new technologies. But Micah is delighted to watch how quickly dealerships are adopting AI to deliver better customer experiences and drive sales or service appointments.
The reason Intelligent Virtual Assistants are so effective is that they deliver human-like, two-way conversations at scale. These conversations are polite, persistent and prompt — a winning combination that delivers higher ROI than traditional marketing methods in a way that is trackable and provable.
“Customers love it and they don’t even realize they are speaking with an AI Assistant,” Micah says. Better yet, Salespeople and Service teams also love AI Assistants because they immediately pass handraisers over to Sales the instant they express intent to buy, thereby cutting down on time spent chasing leads in favor of closing deals. This ensures that dealerships are engaging and taking full advantage of every single opportunity.
This healthy synergy between Intelligent Virtual Assistants and people is known as the Augmented Workforce and is something from which any industry can benefit.
Driving in the Right Direction
By adapting to a business mindset and adopting AI technologies, automotive dealerships are doing a better job of attracting, acquiring, retaining and growing customer engagements; all while optimizing their workforce and capturing the data they need to make smarter decisions.
For a deeper understanding of how Automotive Sales AI Assistants are changing automotive dealerships, listen to the full podcast!
Prefer to see how Conversica AI Assistants can augment your workforce? Request a demo today!