AI Enhances Customer Communication
Picture this: A customer purchases a vehicle from your dealership, and you send them regular communications to keep them engaged. Your customer begins to click on links to learn more about trading in their vehicle and making a new purchase. Your dealership’s BDC is alerted that the customer is now in market and gives that customer a call, mentioning that the dealership is looking for trade-ins and encouraging the customer to return to your dealership to see what new inventory is available. The customer is interested and schedules an appointment for the following day.
How do you make sense of the many pieces of data that your dealership collects from customers? That ocean of data can be made into actionable information using Artificial Intelligence (AI). At their dealerships in Rockford, Loves Park and Crystal Lake, IL, the Anderson Automotive Group enlisted the help of Outsell to put their data to work in a functional way to improve customer engagement and increase sales. Outsell nurtures lasting relationships (or “solidifies relationships”) with sales and service customers for dealerships throughout the customer journey, staying in front of them with consistent, AI-driven, omni-channel personalized content and identifying when they are in market.
“Before, we were sending out monthly emails, but there was no way to track exactly what was going on,” said Anderson Automotive Group Internet Sales Director Kristi Alguire. “In 2019, we decided to put our Toyota store on Outsell and we had a lot of success with it. Then, we reached out to our representative to add our other stores on, and we’ve had no regrets!”
The pandemic has accelerated consumer research on how customers are using the internet. Vast amounts of customer data — including web analytics, service data, purchase data and ownership data — is available from several sources and floats around in the digital stratosphere. AI is able to connect the dots. Outsell is an extension of the dealership’s marketing team that runs around the clock on cruise control, intelligently learning and responding to individual consumer behavior, while providing the flexibility to customize and control content targeting specific consumers, personally, continuously and automatically.
“Many people see this as a lead generator, and it’s not,” Alguire said. “We already know who they are, and they know who we are. We are ensuring our brand is always there — our dealership, our features, our benefits — with personalized content and offers. We’re looking for engaged customers. We’re getting people who weren’t necessarily looking, to go back to our website, which is the goal with our marketing.”
The Anderson Automotive Group, like most dealerships around the country, is facing a lack of new inventory on their lots due to the international chip shortage. Being able to connect with customers to increase their pre-owned inventory is something that is setting the group’s dealerships apart from the competition.
“The focus has to be on pre-owned vehicles right now,” Alguire said. “We’re in the same boat as everyone else. We don’t know when we’re going to have new vehicle inventory and what we have is getting low. So, we can put custom messages into our emails that say, ‘We’re buying cars! Come in for a free appraisal!’ And those messages do a lot of good for us. It’s more important now to be able to engage with the database that we already have.”
Alguire and her team primarily use email to reach their customers, but they have capabilities to reach out via a phone call or text message, depending on the customer.
“We can send an individual text without looking like we’re ‘stalking’ people,” Alguire said with a laugh. “We can say, ‘We’re interested in your car,’ to the customer. We use different channels based on what we see Outsell is bringing us.”
Though the intricacies of AI can be complicated, using Outsell is not. And whenever a dealership has a question, the team at Outsell, including Senior Dealer Success Representative Larry Christopher, is just a phone call away.
“Training is ongoing, and Larry is an integral part of that because he comes to our stores and works with our BDC staff and our sales managers to make sure that they all know how to use it,” Alguire said. “Anytime I call Larry, he’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s set up a store visit’ and he’ll come down. If we get a new sales manager, he’ll come and talk to them. We made sure at the beginning that we had a group meeting with all of our GMs and made sure everybody was on board. And I think that’s the most important part. They have to believe in it to use it. The sales managers and GMs know that if they want to highlight certain inventory, all they need to do is call Larry. It’s been a real smooth process.”
“The Outsell Customer Success Team comes together and compiles the best practices that dealers are actually using,” Christopher said. “So, when I go into a store for training with new sales managers and the BDC staff, I show them areas that other dealers are finding very valuable — whether that’s boosting inventory from our platform or sending out on-demand communications. If there’s ever any time that they have a question, they don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and reach out. I definitely feel like the relationship that we have is based on good communication between us and their customers and that leads to success.”
For more information about Outsell and how to start playing the long game with AI, visit outsell.com.