Bots vs. Humans: From the Perspective of a Customer Engagement Expert.

Automotive Chatbots vs. Human Guidance

Written By Ted Rubin

(From the perspective of a CEE, AKA a Customer Engagement Expert)

“Is this a chatbot?”

“Am I speaking to a living person?”

“How do I know you’re real?”

These are just a few of the questions we get daily from hundreds and hundreds of conversations with car buyers.

Consumers have come to know what to expect when it comes to engaging with businesses using chat and messenger apps: they have been burned too many times by conversational AI being the first line of defense on a brand website.

For example, the other day, a man quizzed me on the history of various wildfires in Santa Cruz, California to make sure he wasn’t talking to a computer program. To be fair, I used Google to find every answer (to their satisfaction, apparently, since they confirmed their belief in me), but the point is still well-noted:

Customers Value Interactions with an Actual Human Being, Not an Automotive Chatbot

According to a study by ChatDesk: "Only 34% of respondents stated they would be comfortable using chatbots in an online retail situation. Most customers don’t want chatbots."

Car dealerships that employ AI technology and/or AI chatbots to handle online customer queries during the automobile purchase process lose a competitive advantage to those with live chat support/a live BDC team. Today's consumers can know in an instant whether or not they are genuinely connecting with another human being representing businesses.

Unfortunately, sometimes even live human chatters are prone to sometimes sounding a bit like an AI chatbot. So, it’s no surprise that results are less than stellar when you use a conversation script that ties up your agents too much; your real people can actually, on a surface level, read like artificial intelligence.

Scripts like these fail to acknowledge the nuance of human conversations and the customer’s needs – whether they’re apparent or underlying.

Dysfunctional robot answering conversation with confusing messages

Your customers online, who have found your auto dealership (or auto dealerships) by computer, phone, word of mouth, or all of the above, are just your customers; there is no distinction at a fundamental level. They are real people, looking for cars, and looking to have a conversation. Big ticket items. A big decision. The second most expensive purchase of their life!

With no opportunity to share a moment of humor or empathy, a lasting impression is nearly impossible to come by through a car dealer chatbot alone. Chatbots in the automotive retail space are glorified answering machines only suited for repetitive tasks.

This Isn't Conversational Marketing; It's Real People!

AI Chatbots, and bot-style chatting by a real person, can serve to frustrate potential customers. Customers often have more involved concerns beyond the most straightforward part of the car-buying customer journey.

Yes, the digital retailing process can be complex. Yes, it's super easy to confirm you have the car and ask them to come in. But messaging isn't just about generating leads or conversion rates (make no mistake, these are still very important). To drive customer engagement and encourage trust in automotive dealers, a real person has to read between the lines.

A mother needs to know if the new cars have the safety features necessary for her children. The guy who has his own lawn business needs to know what truck is going to help maintain his clientele's needs. The multiple dog owner needs to know what vehicles are the most pet friendly for their adventures.

There are multiple ways to connect with customers about vehicles in real time. In the digital age, automotive live chat is perfect to interact and drive traffic with your website customers.

If the chatbot only addresses the most obvious steps of the complex vehicle purchase process, without paying mind to other subtle needs, the customers feel unheard. Sometimes, the customer just wants to talk through it!

The Automotive Industry Needs More Humanity, Not Less

That’s where a personalized chat service comes in. That friendly, no-doubt-its-a-human concierge service establishes a culture of listening and superior customer experience before their fingers even leave the keyboard. A great dealership experience has heart and character. And as such, a tremendous automotive live chat service should have a beating heart on the other end of it!

Whether we like it or not, the sales side of the automotive industry doesn't leave good memories of a customer experience in clients' minds. The bad stereotype of lot sharks haunts the automobile industry to this day. We can call live chat conversational marketing in the way that a good conversation about what cars would fit customers needs, before they come in for test drives or other services, is great for your dealership brand and can make them a future, repeating customer.

First impressions are everything. At your dealership, the tone for the experience is set in the very first few minutes. A great messaging experience expedites that first impression to the purchase planning stages for the customer. It helps get rid of doubt and erases that often spoke of “dealership dread.”

ActivEngage Helps the Largest Automotive Companies Drive Customer Engagement

Friendly messaging experiences can instill patience and a sense of ease in your shoppers. A warm, understanding, relatable voice can give your sales representatives some leeway in following up on a lead.

Diligent messaging experts note all customer pain points in customer queries to provide your dealership with full context into the lead. We go the extra mile so that your team is super prepared to provide a dazzling customer experience during follow-up and beyond.

Empathetic humans set your customer and team up for success, while chatbots miss opportunities and conversational AI constantly comes up short.

If you currently use automotive chatbots and want to see how ActivEngage can help you interact meaningfully with your online customers, raise your lead conversion rate, and be backed by a team of Customer Engagement Experts who are continually trained on best practices and automotive brands: fill out the form below, and let's talk!


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?