The Human/A.I. Connection in Automotive Retail

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Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of both artificial intelligence and human intelligence, we can investigate how these aspects of the automotive retail space have the potential to influence and enhance one another.

A dealership I work with was struggling with response times. They had one agent who split time between Business Development and the sales floor. This left a significant gap in the employee’s ability to respond to leads promptly (you’ll remember the importance of response times). The customers were not being called, and it was glaringly obvious in the CRM.

When approached with this concern, the employee took it upon himself to fix the problem. He changed the settings in the dealership’s communication A.I. and implemented a ‘timer kill’ protocol. At our next meeting the employee proudly declared a response time of 00 seconds.

Instead of addressing the actual concern—the dealership needed to hire a second individual—the employee hid his incompetence behind the functionality of artificial intelligence.  

The bigger problem was that the A.I. he had chosen to use did not have the capability to respond to customers’ wants and needs intuitively. Its sole purpose was to act as an assistant to a B.D. Agent response. The employee either did not care or did not understand the computer program he had been tasked with overseeing.

Understand Uses

Each artificial intelligence available to you will have its strengths and weaknesses. The employee responsible for implementing and maintaining any individual A.I. must understand its capabilities.

Some A.I.’s may have the ability to email en masse your customer database yet lack the ability to properly engage with any customer. Its use is to initiate conversation in bulk.

Others may be able to engage with canned conversations that allow your agents a little extra time to reach all their leads.

One of our favorites is Foureyes. Their Prospect Engagement product incorporates a customer-led cadence email format—the amount and content of emails changes with how the customer is engaging. Still, Foureyes cannot offer initial contact.

These are three separate programs, and while they often are grouped, their functionality is significantly different. If you have one person in charge of these programs, be sure that person fully understands usage.

Consider Usage

With all of those 1’s and 0’s going into the daily running of your dealership communication between your teams becomes imperative. Recently another dealer I work with had a Friday morning meeting in which they encouraged their sales team to send videos to customers who were engaged from long-distances. The GSM stated that in the new process, the sales team would be required to take a screenshot of the video they had made on their personal phone as proof they had done the task.

The B.D. Manager recounted reluctantly interrupting her boss—the GSM—with a piece of information she thought he already knew.

“So, we actually pay for a program for these sorts of videos. Please use the program and not your personal phones.”

Be aware of the impact your artificial intelligences are having. Your monthly manager’s meeting should include discussions regarding the technology you are using. This ensures that everyone is on board and understands what is in place. From the top down your dealership should be aware of the tools purchased for their success.

Evaluate Users

As we grow into the new stages of the automotive retail industry the paradigm shift of technology is undeniable. Your teams must not be allowed to resist this change. “I’m old-school” is not an excuse for opposing intellectual growth or ignoring adaptation.

The money has been spent the program WILL be used.

Watching, evaluating, and holding your employees accountable for this expectation is not micro-management. It is good management.

According to the Harvard Business Review: “accountability processes are the formal and informal ways that leaders talk about, assess, and affirm the contributions of those they lead and the improvements they can make to strengthen those contributions.”

The most common breakdown between A.I. and your personnel happens when your staff fails to buy in. You believed in the product enough to go through multiple demos, possibly convince your D.P., sign the paperwork, and then implement training. It is now time to demonstrate to your teams why you did so.

We suggest beginning with extreme ownership. Start with your management team. When many minds agree then decisions have more impact.

Perhaps carve out time for demos during your monthly meeting–this will allow for group participation from the beginning. Perhaps encourage each member of management to find a product they would like to use. Perhaps only implement products that have been unanimously agreed upon.

However you choose to begin, the end goal is to not let your teams USE or AVOID the A.I.’s in order to mask flaws in the process. Inspect what you expect and practice extreme ownership. Create interconnectivity between your humans and your computers.

If you are doing less, you are losing money.

Charity Ann