As surprising as it may sound, many dealerships continue to rely on static forms as the primary method of engaging with consumers on their websites. Despite the fact that experts have proven that there is a very real decline in engagement with static lead forms, many dealers have fond memories of positive past results and are having a hard time leaving static lead forms behind.
Understanding what artificial intelligence (AI) can do for your dealership could change all that. AI is at the forefront of a technological revolution: Digital superstars like Google, Apple and Amazon, have been leveraging AI for years to improve the customer experience and enable them to learn more about each customer to better serve them.
Amazon, for example, never forgets who a customer is. Even after a consumer leaves the website and returns, Amazon won’t ask him/her to log back in. Additionally, Amazon leverages the learnings it gets from customer actions to provide product and service recommendations — acting almost like a personal assistant. None of this would be possible without the power of AI. Which begs the question: what can AI do for your dealership?
Before diving any further into this, we need to ask an important question: “Why do dealerships have different expectations for the online customer experiences versus the showroom customer experience?” The answer is that many dealerships are unaware that intuitive options that go well beyond the static lead form are readily available and easily implementable.
Understandably, the showroom experience is critical to a dealership’s bottom line success as well as its CSI – which is why so much emphasis is placed there. But, as the number of consumers that are considered “digital natives” continues to grow, it makes sense for dealerships to bring what works on the showroom floor to their dealership website. AI offers that opportunity because it is able to ‘learn’ from each individual customer on the website, and can customize the experience to each customer’s needs, just as a salesperson would on the showroom floor.
So, what CAN AI do for your dealership? Let’s run down the list:
Static forms generally have a minimal success rate because consumers are hesitant to use them. They’re afraid to fill in their personal data because they worry about their privacy and an onslaught of sales calls. But if they are going to be treated as an individual and receive information that helps them move their decision process forward, they are more likely to reciprocate.
AI innovation facilitates this process because it follows consumer actions and knows what consumers are looking for, providing appropriate suggestions and the next steps towards a purchase. AI becomes the dealership’s best online salesperson by helping consumers take more conscious steps through the car shopping process. By providing multiple engagement points during the decision-making process, AI can help consumers feel more in control. And the engagement levels proves that AI really works: the average consumer spends about 2 minutes on a dealership website(1), but a more interactive experience driven by AI can increase that time to as much as 12 minutes. The longer a consumer remains on a dealership website, the greater the likelihood that they’ll land in the showroom to buy a vehicle.
Artificial intelligence also allows dealerships to learn more about their consumers. It enables dealers to track visitor activity and collect it in order to learn more about their consumer-base — both on an individual level and in aggregate. This helps dealers understand more about their shoppers, while also offering powerful information to help improve the website’s overall performance.
For example, data that PERQ has collected on dealership websites through its online guided shopping solution, indicates that consumers are more likely to respond to sidebar ads on the lower right-hand corner of the website than anywhere else. This is just one of many insights that AI gathers to help improve dealership website performance.
In addition to learning about overall consumer behavior, AI can also focus on individual consumers. When consumers provide their contact information prior to leveraging specific tools (Ex: trade value), their contact information is immediately linked to that data. This helps your sales team to reach out more efficiently and better assist them in the showroom when they do come in.
Remember when I said that Amazon remembers consumers when they come BACK to the dealership website? AI lets dealership websites do the same thing. Assuming these customers are conducting research on other websites (and they most certainly are), it is very likely that they will return to a dealership’s website if their previous experience was positive. With AI, a dealership can remember exactly who these consumers are and create a seamless experiences that allows consumers to pick up where they left off.
The experience of revisiting a website and having to start the shopping process from scratch and re-entering personal information can be very frustrating. Digital consumers have no patience for this and more often than not will give up and leave. Because it allows consumers to pick up where they left off, AI helps and engage retain consumers on a dealership website longer all while engaging them down the shopping funnel to schedule a test drive.
Success breeds success and an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t necessarily a bad mindset, but as consumers increasingly demand an intuitive digital experience, considering something new like AI could reap major benefits: the opportunity to convert more leads and sell more cars.
It is pretty simple: consumers want a more seamless experience that allows them to have control over the shopping process, just as they do at Amazon. Your dealership doesn’t need to have Amazon-level IT to achieve an Amazon-like experience and dealerships who have adopted AI are experiencing significant pay offs!
(1) Data culled from Google Analytics prior to the addition of AI-driven engagement experiences on dealer websites.