Few purchases require more research and careful consideration than buying a car. The multitude of brands, models, and features available to consumers, for either new or used vehicles, is seemingly endless. Not everyone is comfortable walking into a dealership and asking a salesperson to walk them through the exhaustive process of selecting and tailoring the ideal automobile for their budget and lifestyle. Although many consumers would benefit from having this discussion with a human agent on the phone or through a chat interface, automotive companies don’t have the necessary resources to deploy thousands of agents dedicated solely to this task. As a result, consumers are left to research automobiles on their own, or they’re forced to interact with human dealers who may not have the time, or temperament, to deliver a thorough and enjoyable car-buying experience.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ideal remedy for this issue. IPsoft’s cognitive solution, Amelia, helps customers find the right vehicle regardless of their needs, time of day, the device they’re using, and, in many cases, the language they prefer to speak. Amelia provides automotive companies with a digital agent who thinks, speaks, and empathizes like humans, who is also adept at understanding and communicating how the automotive buying experience works. Amelia observes, learns, and remembers anything customers ask, and she can read emotions and context during conversations with prospective buyers. As a cognitive agent, Amelia can scale to meet demand as traffic to an automotive company’s website grows, which means customers are never on hold waiting for answers to their questions.

Amelia and The Auto-Buying Experience

When a customer comes to an automotive company’s website, he or she typically has a good idea what they’d like to buy. But let’s pretend a customer named Mary has never purchased a car, and doesn’t know which models and features make sense for her. Amelia will start by asking very open-ended questions, such as, “Hello, Mary, thanks for registering with us. Is there anything specific I can help you with today?”

Mary will then tell Amelia that she is looking for a red vehicle that can comfortably seat her family of five, and she’s very concerned about safety. Based off of that high-level information, Amelia can present possible options on a web page, similar to results within Amazon, or on Google. Before prompting Mary to make a selection, Amelia will further refine Mary’s choices by asking additional questions.

  • What is your budget?
  • How concerned are you about gas mileage?
  • Is horsepower very important to you?

Based on the answers to these kinds of questions, Amelia further narrows down the list of potential cars. Mary can then start to ask more specific questions in order to ensure that she’s meeting her exact needs.

  • I like the cars that don’t have keys. Do you offer those?
  • I would like Wi-Fi. Do any of these models have it built in?

Amelia will display only those vehicles that offer these features. At this point, Mary’s options should be narrowed down to only a few makes and models.  Amelia can then use the company’s list of automotive technical specifications, and her vast automotive knowledge, to detail the differences between these options so that Mary makes an educated decision.

Amelia: Because you’re concerned with safety, you should know that the sedan offers rear cross-traffic alert.
Mary: What’s that?
Amelia: When you back out of the driveway, the sedan will notify you if traffic is approaching from either side of the vehicle.

Once Mary has selected her ideal model, Amelia will then ask specific questions about available features that may be of interest. Heated steering wheels and seats, automatic high beams, dual-zone automatic climate control—Amelia will work with Mary at her own pace to customize the vehicle to her liking.

Most importantly, Amelia doesn’t work off of commissions, so she won’t be too pushy, regardless of how long the conversation takes. She understands that Mary might be reluctant to make such a big purchase, which allows her to take a calm and consultative approach. Additionally, unlike chatbots that help consumers research cars, Amelia is able to jump back and forth with Mary from context to context in order to provide a detailed, precise, and attentive experience, no matter how often Mary jumps from topic to topic.

Amelia: Okay, the sedan you selected is fully customized and ready. Would you like to schedule a test drive?
Mary: I don’t know. I’m still considering the SUV with the heads-up display.
Amelia: No problem. I’ve saved your selections for the sedan. We can come back to that later. What other questions do you have about the SUV?
Mary: I’d also like to discuss the one you mentioned that had the lane departure system.
Amelia: You’re referring to the Coupe. We can discuss that as well. Which would you like to discuss first?

This level of considerate, patient, and empathetic customer service is mostly missing in traditional digital and in-dealership experiences. Although most (but not all) customers will not purchase a vehicle without a test drive, those that don’t can have their customized vehicle ready and waiting for pick up at a dealership.

Viewed holistically, AI colleagues such as Amelia can improve consumers’ car-buying experience, accelerate the speed with which purchases can be made, and reduce the time that human employees must dedicate to walking customers through the car-buying process. AI-powered automotive research and purchasing is a win-win for customers and manufacturers alike.

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