Impel CEO & Co-founder Devin Daly wins Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2024 New York Award | Read More

Impel CEO & Co-founder Devin Daly wins Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2024 New York Award | Read More

Impel Blog

Using Automotive AI half the time? Expect half the results.

Embrace Automotive AI 24/7 for a seamless customer experience that unleashes your dealership’s full potential.

Consumers expect always-on experiences and instant responses anytime and anywhere when they engage with a business. While adopting Automotive AI at scale is a powerful and effective way to meet these expectations, too many dealerships leverage AI primarily as an after-hours solution only to be used when sales reps are off the clock. 

However, the stats on dealership performance during operating hours are revealing. On average, 40% of qualified dealership leads are mishandled due to slow responses, no responses, or the lead never making its way into a CRM1. It’s evident that sales teams need more support to engage and nurture leads effectively. They’re simply too busy to track, respond to, and follow up with every lead immediately and thoroughly.  

Automotive AI can manage the monotonous lead-handling work that hinders sales teams from doing what they do best: serving customers, nurturing leads, and closing deals. AI can provide that sustained benefit during operating hours as well as after hours – but only if dealers allow it to do so.

Using AI as the “night shift” will only get you so far

The use of autoresponders, scripted chatbots, and early-stage Automotive AI tools with very narrow applications was widespread in the early days of automation. The negative associations surrounding the very real limitations of these legacy solutions still persist (as does their use), despite the rapid evolution of modern AI. These outdated perceptions can breed reluctance to adopt AI broadly at scale, especially during business hours. 

Many dealers remain skeptical that AI can consistently operate at the required levels, or even outperform humans at certain tasks or applications – particularly when it comes to managing customer conversations and complex questions. However, this assessment fails to account for the remarkable progress of generative AI technology and conversational AI. It also overestimates the consistency and effectiveness of sales personnel whose capacity is already stretched thin.

And the industry data quoted above doesn’t lie.  

From handling showroom walk-ups and visits, keeping current on the dizzying array of models, trims, and technology options, updating the CRM, replying to routine questions, sending endless follow-ups, and chasing down appointments, sales reps are often pulled in too many directions to engage every single lead quickly and effectively. As a result, they’ll prioritize brand-new leads over older ones, only follow up for a few days before moving on, and take process shortcuts out of necessity, resulting in missed opportunities for the dealership during business hours that accumulate over time. 

In addition, there’s often an unrecognized issue with only using AI after-hours that further undermines the customer experience. Imagine contacting a dealership after-hours and engaging in immediate humanlike conversations with detailed information, only to be met with slow engagement, longer response times, and less thorough answers the following day while the dealership is open. This inconsistency in customer service is frustrating and confusing, especially during business hours when customer expectations are at their highest. The switch from fully human-driven to AI-powered lead engagement can result in a disruptive and disjointed customer experience. 

With Automotive AI embedded across the entire sales process, it takes on monotonous and repetitive tasks that hinder team performance during the day. It runs independently at night, qualifying leads and even setting appointments for the following day. Turning AI on 24/7 accelerates every stage of the sales process, helping you unlock operational efficiency and reach your dealership’s full potential. 

Always-on AI helps your staff do their best work, unlocking next-level dealership performance

Running automotive AI around the clock ensures customers and prospects are always engaged in a consistent and timely manner, and it frees up personnel to focus on more impactful work – a win-win for dealerships and customers.

It’s not a question of human staff or AI. Here are seven reasons why running AI 24/7 alongside your sales team is better for business:

1. Immediate, 24/7 engagement 
AI responds around the clock, in seconds. It can manage an unlimited number of conversations at once with a level of accuracy, speed, and consistency that humans are unlikely to match.

2. Efficient and consistent lead qualification
AI ensures sales reps only spend their time on quality leads with high purchase intent. Unlike humans, AI is not bound by time constraints. It treats all leads equally and gives them undivided attention without sacrificing productivity. This approach screens out low-intent shoppers while still providing them with a high-touch customer experience, which can turn into future pipeline opportunities and increases in 60- and 90-day close ratios.

3. Faster and more accurate answers to inventory questions
An AI platform that is directly integrated into a dealership’s inventory feeds can typically answer detailed, VIN-specific questions faster and more accurately than a salesperson can. Dealers can leverage AI to take on these crucial yet repetitive tasks, ensuring all relevant inventory questions are answered and recorded in the CRM before the sales rep engages the customer.

4. More consistent and data-driven conversations
Instead of dealership personnel spending countless hours focusing on creating messaging that drives conversions, AI consistently optimizes communications. For example, asking shoppers about trade-ins can boost appointment rates by as much as 70%2. Behaviors like this are difficult to apply consistently across sales teams, but AI can be trained to talk trade-ins with every single lead when the time is right.

5. Automated appointment scheduling
AI solutions built for automotive retail can integrate directly with core systems like a dealership’s CRM to enable automated appointment scheduling. Customers benefit from instant gratification while staff can focus more on relationship building, live phone calls, and showroom appointments –  and less on administrative tasks, emails, and texts.

6. Long-term follow-up
The average car buying sales cycle is about 50 days, but sales reps aren’t incentivized to nurture prospects that long, especially if they are unresponsive. This gives high-intent shoppers who just aren’t ready to visit a dealership too much leeway to engage with the competition. Using Automotive AI to follow up with every lead consistently reduces the risk of losing early-stage visitors or unresponsive buyers, as they’ll never fall off of your radar.

7. Stronger OEM and brand compliance
Automotive AI solutions engage in highly nuanced conversations while consistently following safeguards and guardrails that adhere to dealership brand and OEM requirements. Some solutions even include customizable controls that support individual retailer business practices, such as sharing specific warranty information or financing options. 

When humans work smoothly alongside AI they can provide customers with a seamless and personalized experience that turns shoppers into lifelong customers.

The ROI of Always-on AI

Embracing Automotive AI across the entire sales process helps prospective customers start their journey with your dealership on the right foot, no matter the time of day. It sets your dealership up for long-term customer loyalty beyond the sale.

Dealers using AI see significant business impact:

  • Faster response times: answers within seconds, compared to several minutes or days
  • Increased appointment set rates: average increases of 20-30%  
  • Significant lifts in touches per lead, live phone calls, and outbound sales activity, with a decrease in administrative tasks like emails and texting

But if you’re only using AI half the time, you can expect half the results. 

Watch Craig’s full story here.

Watch Annie’s full story here.

When you find the right AI platform, let it run. 

The right Automotive AI solution can enable your dealership to reach new standards of operational efficiency, productivity – and results. Leveraging AI across the entire customer lifecycle and within each of your dealer systems unlocks its true value. Building AI seamlessly into the entire sales process, not just as a last-resort solution to use in the absence of humans, is a great place to start. 

Our final tip?  Choose an AI solution that’s so humanlike that customers won’t even realize they’re interacting with AI. Read our Automotive AI Buyer’s Checklist to learn how.

1 – Foureyes study 2022
2 – Impel customer results