Are We Entering a Chatbot Revolution?
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Are We Entering a Chatbot Revolution?

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The Internet is both a fantastic and frightening place. Information and choice overload dominate our hyper-connected lives, and most times we need a little help in navigating the online world from actual people. Live chat has quickly saturated the market and is no longer a commodity — it’s a necessity.

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Live chat evolved quickly in the auto industry, moving from Websites to texting to social media messaging and beyond — always powered by real people. But 2017 is the year of the chatbots. Dubbed “the next big trend,” chatbots promise endless opportunities for car dealers to connect with car buyers.

Why Do Consumers Click to Chat?

It’s no secret that live chat gives dealerships many competitive advantages, but to understand the place of chatbots in your dealership’s marketing, you first have to realize why consumers click to chat.

The most important reason live chat is a necessity is that your customers both love it and expect it — plain and simple. Live chat provides your auto shoppers:

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Instant gratification with quick and simple responses
Access to a real person who understands their needs
A positive experience on their terms

In other words, your shoppers want a seamless and straightforward live chat experience. Whether it’s a chatbot or a real person on the other side, giving the people what they want is the only way to get results.

The Chatbot Revolution is Just Beginning

Chatbots present an opportunity for businesses wanting to engage online consumers. Eventually, chatbots will allow car dealers to increase efficiency, and ultimately get more sales. The technology, however, is still in its infancy, which means chatbots aren’t the most cost-effective option yet.

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Chatbots don’t have the human ability to interpret subtleties in our conversation, such as wit or empathy. And when it comes to buying a new car or getting service, most consumers need more than your location. They need to trust you, and conversations with a robot won’t give them that.

Tools like Alexa and Facebook Messenger bots work for the Amazons and TV shows of the world. Our expectations of bots and smart assistants can’t be that charitably low in the car business, though, because your shoppers don’t chat in to ask about the weather. They chat in to ask questions about one of the most significant purchases they will make in a lifetime.

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The good news is that, while artificial intelligence continues to grow and evolve, you can use chatbots to save time and money right now.

How Can Dealers use Chatbots Today?

Chatbots won’t take the place of a real representative, but they’ll make it easier for reps by taking care of the most tedious parts of the job, such as answering simple questions such as:

What are your service hours today?
Can I have your dealership’s address?
What’s the phone number for the parts department?

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A chatbot’s value lies in reducing your chat team’s workload. A good chatbot will do its own legwork and won’t create more for your staff or your customers. If a customer needs an answer the bot can’t provide, the chatbot would then transfer the chat to a real person.

For this human/machine combo to work, the interaction would need to be so seamless that dealer customers won’t know — or care — whether they’re chatting with a human or a bot. The transition from bot to a person would be uninterrupted, and all prior details of the conversation would be readily available, allowing the chat rep to pick up where the bot left off. A smooth transfer is essential to maintain a positive experience for the customer.

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Like all other industry products, you need to watch out for poorly designed chatbots because they can make or break a sale. Once the hype dies down and the dust settles, we’ll be seeing bots helping humans do what they do best, rather than poorly imitating them.

The Human Touch is Still Your Greatest Asset

Shiny new technology can be entrancing, but it’s important to be objective when the change impacts the consumer experience.

With such an incoming tsunami of artificial noise, it’s no surprise businesses are already bragging about deploying “real human” support as a key business differentiator. After all, there’s a reason why the word “robotic” is a derogatory term and will be for a long time to come.

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Consumers want to feel important and that means personalizing the chat experience. Until chatbots are ready to respond to consumers’ emotional needs, we’ll still depend on real people for complex conversations.

Lisandra Ramos

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