A computer almost always knows better than a human, artificial intelligence proponents say, but many car dealers have to see it to believe it before they can get comfortable handing certain tasks off to a machine.
John Malishenko, director of operations for Germain Motor Co., went through that at a Cox Automotive retreat about Clutch, Cox's vehicle subscription platform, where he was floored by the engagement and customer satisfaction potential of Clutch's artificial intelligence tool.
"I was amazed they could create an engaging experience that was all AI-driven. No brick and mortar, not many people [involved in the sale], but people felt engaged, connected, heard," said Malishenko. "All the traditional mechanisms we use to build engagement — people, buildings, amenities — [were] nonexistent. It was all being done through AI."
The Clutch app receives telematics data from the vehicle and asks customers questions to create a profile designed to help personalize their experience. After the retreat, Malishenko signed up Germain, a dealership group in Columbus, Ohio, to offer its own subscription program through Clutch.
Artificial intelligence is defined broadly and has a few distinct levels, and dealerships are still only scratching the surface of intelligent data. While not all retailers have embraced the tools, dealership use of AI can do more than enhance the customer experience; it also can boost store profitability. There are hurdles to clear, such as trusting a process that's difficult to understand, but with a plethora of data, many dealers are using AI to get more efficient. Not only can they better deploy employees, whose time can be freed up through AI tools, but they also can make better pricing and inventory choices and sell vehicles faster.