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Phone Skills We Learned While Building Automotive Digital Assistants

We all understand that DAs like Alexa know more details than your employees, but is she more trustworthy? Create dealership processes and develop people like we develop DAs.

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We have all heard “this call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes,” but it’s hard to recall the specific calls that we hear it on because these disclaimers are so common.

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Are all these calls really being recorded? They are! Hundreds of millions of calls to car dealers — inbound and outbound — are being recorded every year. This begs the question, is anyone listening to them? Yes again!

Machine Learning (ML) processes every call and actually understands what the call is about, the sentiment of the caller and dealer and what the outcome of the call was.

The next question from inquisitive listeners is, “Are the machines answering the questions?” Yes, the Digital Assistants (DAs) are beginning to answer callers’ questions but we have years to go before they are ready to take the lion’s share of questions. While it’s early in development, we have discovered three cornerstones of caller customer experience (#CallerCX) expectations that can help your dealership today.

Who is your future Digital Assistant working for?
Time is the new currency for customers that call your store. They demand the same experience that they receive online: transparency of information and great technology to convey the information they seek.

DAs have an advantage over dealership employees in that they can handle thousands of calls at the same time and instantly dip into limitless data sources to answer caller questions. These dealership responses, be it from DAs or humans, must match the callers’ online experience. Measure your callers’ effort. How quick and easy do your callers accomplish their goal in calling your store? This is a daunting task for many callers, as 99 out of 100 callers to a dealership expect a hassle. This is why we are designing DAs with a servant’s attitude that puts customers first and dealers second.

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What do we want from our dealership employees and future Digital Assistants?
Customers call because they can’t get the information they seek or conduct a transaction online. With this realization, DAs are developed to answer the callers’ questions as the primary objective. We should develop our people to do the same thing.

While DAs can instantly tap into several data sources to answer questions about availability, lease terms and service appointment options, employees may need to fill the time void while searching for information with dialogue.

This is a relationship-building opportunity. Making connections is a distant future capability for DAs but for humans it what we do best. Top-performing employees, who set more than 60 percent of their calls to appointments, answer all of their callers’ questions and make connections if only as simple as discussing the caller’s current vehicle. Too many dealerships train employees to collect contact information and ask for the appointment as their primary objective. These are not important metrics to customers and therefore they are not the lead elements in bot design. The process for DAs and employees handling customer inquiries should be the same, selling comes after answering questions and building rapport. Design your workflows like we design bots.

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How can we make sure our current processes and future Digital Assistants guide buyers to choose us?
The big promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to make customers aware of the pros and cons in a purchasing decision that the customer is unaware of. DAs will be able to bring up details of concern to the buyer even when the buyer doesn’t know what they don’t know. That’s the promise land.

Today, leading dealerships share their benefit statements with callers, why choose our OEM brand and why choose our dealership, as a way to make customers aware of why they should conduct business together. The alternative to making connections is to offer incentives, discounts and added features. Train your team the same way we train our DAs — innovate first and incentivize for selection second.

Digital Assistants are here and they are destined to grow in usability. Today we schedule oil changes often with the caller unaware they are speaking with a bot. States like California have already announced legislation about disclosing the use of DAs in phone calls, as someday DAs will make connections with humans.

All of this AI is being carefully designed by the brightest minds the world has and building trust is at the root of their engineering. People trust people who show both high competence and high character. This is why we develop DAs to selflessly serve customers. We all understand that DAs like Alexa know more details than your employees, but is she more trustworthy? Create dealership processes and develop people like we develop DAs.

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Michael Markette

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