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On May 21, 2020, Paul J Daly held the 3rd Automotive State of the Union, and as always, it did not disappoint. The speakers were solid, the content relevant, and the information actionable. There is always something that I take away from these events, and this time it was the idea of Conversational Commerce.

Things have changed greatly--especially in how we will move forward doing business in automotive. Many of the changes are ones that were already underway for quite some time, but were pushed forward with the global pandemic. 

Personal space will become a commodity. Online relational sales will jump. In-person interactions may be rethought.  Automotive must learn how to effectively communicate with customers without relying on the full day spent in the showroom and the leveraging of face-to-face personal interactions.

This is where the term conversational commerce comes into play. While Drew Delaware (Gubagoo) was introducing this topic, it made me think about how important the full journey of customer engagement truly is. It is not just making sure phone numbers are routed correctly or that the first initial contact is done well. Conversational Commerce is the way you increase your bottom line through the employment of an omni-channel approach to all customer interactions.

Think About It

The customer is online shopping on various sites, looking at your inventory, well before they know they need ABC Motors. They just know they need a new car and that they need X,Y,Z features. How are you engaging with that customer to let them know why ABC Motors is the best choice for their purchase? How are you communicating your specific value propositions and leveraging your brand to show the customer why they need to make their 1.2 dealership visit to you?

Cutting Edge Technology and Real People

Every touch point with a customer is valuable. Every interaction--whether with a chat bot, an automated email, or any form of AI-- tells the customer exactly what they should expect from you. What are you saying when all of your first touches with customers are automated?

In our current environment, we saw what happens when a global change occurs and algorithms can’t keep up. AI algorithms were in place for specific scenarios, and they work the majority of the time. But when the message must change dramatically and pivot on a dime, they are not equipped to adapt. That is why you need the human element to aid, assist, and enhance technology. In my current readings from the Sloan School of Management, they highlighted this concept, and it reiterated the fact that technology alone is not the answer, but a platform.  Converational tech needs people to perform, to reach and engage customers well, and to provide that white-glove experience we all want to give our customers.

Back to the Beginning

Conversational Commerce is the new commodity, and the dealership who knows how to use cutting edge technology WITH the best trained automotive agents will win. Selling is relational. People buy from people they like. Communication builds that relationship. How are you ensuring that not one single customer is ignored or not engaged in conversation with a live person before they jump to the next website or next dealership?

What now?

  • Take a moment and complete this exercise. Put in a lead after hours and follow the conversation path. Who responds first. Do they answer your questions? Is it a bot, or a real person?
  • Did you think the experience was a solid customer experience? If yes, GREAT! If no, where did the chain of communication break?
  • If you need any assistance with this exercise, or are looking for someone to help with omni-channel customer engagement, reach out to BCP. We are the leaders in engagement and would love to help.

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