As a passionate online shopper I expect an easy, comfortable and cross-channel customer experience that is tailored to my personal needs.

I’ve grown up with chats like ICQ and Windows Live Messenger, and Apple’s Siri has helped me already a few times to find a good restaurant in a foreign city. For me, it is much more convenient to ask my questions quickly through chat instead of wasting my time in wait loops.

I’m  able to arrange a test ride with Opel in one minute via the Facebook messenger: I just have to choose the desired model, then “Chad” suggests the nearest car dealership and arranges an appointment with the dealer.

This example could become popular in automotive customer communication. The new service employees are called Chatbots. Thanks to highly developed algorithms, increasing computing power and artificial intelligence, they can continue to develop themselves and become an important support service in automotives customer service.

Acceptance on the customer side is increasing

Already more than 60 percent[1] of the customers find consultations specially tailored to online customer service helpful and are less shy to communicate with a company via chat.

Many companies have already recognised this and are responding to changing customer needs. At Uber in the USA, cars can be ordered via chat, and at Fiat in Argentina, chatbots answers standard questions about cars and services.

Furthermore, a variety of the car interiors are now configured online. In addition to responding to simple questions and help with navigation, chatbots can also submit suggestions for product information or configurations, or, in the case of complex issues, forward to customer service staff or offer a recall to the customer.

Communication does not have to be limited to corporate websites. Integration with social media channels and the connection to messenger services such as Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger has a great synergy and customer potential in automotives.

5 steps for a successful start

In order to successfully integrate chatbots and to exploit their potential for higher profitability in automotives, five points should be considered:

  1. Customer segments and customer journeys must be thoroughly analysed and mapped.
  2. A concept must define service offers and suitable partners from social media.
  3. The early integration of dealerships ensures comprehensive customer advice and is a key element in successful lead generation.
  4. Chatbot applications must be combined and implemented with the right artificial intelligence systems.
  5. Both customer service and sales staff must be engaged in the process of change.

Chatbots are a promising addition to customer service in automotives. They are the right answer to the changing needs of online shoppers and offer the potential to strengthen sales as well as increase customer loyalty through personalised customer experience.

[1] ECC Köln(2016): „Conversational Commerce Wie die Kommunikation zwischen Kunden und Unternehmen den Vertriebserfolg beeinflusst“