One thing I heard while meeting with providers of digital phone assistants at the NADA Show in Las Vegas last month was how the tools can alleviate dealerships' challenges with hiring and staffing.
And that doesn't necessarily mean having fewer employees.
My story this week explores the role of technology in picking up calls after hours or during peak times: improving consumers' experience on the phone and helping dealerships avoid losing business from missed calls.
But the creators of the tools — some of which take human names, such as Stella and Brooke — say that having a machine answer phone calls also can have a positive effect on employee retention by taking over some job responsibilities, such as setting service appointments and answering questions about store hours.
"It really helps lessen the churn that you see in BDCs," or business development centers, said Tiffany Peeler, vice president of sales and operations for Proactive Dealer Solutions, which introduced its virtual assistant, Brooke.ai, last summer.
"Their performance is measured a lot on the inbound [calls], but they're incentivized more on the outbound — but they're terrified to make the outbound calls because they're going to miss the inbound calls," Peeler told me. "By putting Brooke as a safety net in place for them, where they know they can pivot now and make their outbound calls, and if they miss an inbound, it's OK because they have this help, this additional layer of support, we're seeing these BDCs become better environments, and people stay longer and ultimately make more money because now they're making the outbound."