In October, CDK Global surveyed 243 North American automotive dealership executives who consider themselves early adopters of new technology. Of those dealerships using artificial intelligence, 47 percent are utilizing it in the fixed ops department. In January, News Editor Dan Shine spoke with Kim Saylor, 55, director of product marketing at CDK Global, about how AI can improve customer experience and increase revenue in the service department. Here are edited excerpts.
AI can help improve customers' service experience
Senior Editor Dan Shine spoke with Kim Saylor, director of product marketing at CDK Global, about how the technology can increase revenue in the service department.
Q: CDK's survey showed dealers are concerned about staffing shortages and improving employees' skills. How can AI help dealership service departments in these areas?
A: We have an increasing amount of data ... from dealerships, from the manufacturers — even from the vehicles. We can now combine that AI repair order data to guide technicians during the inspection process. [We] utilize AI to [give] a technician additional inspection points on items likely to fail on that specific car at that specific mileage. [As a result], your newer technicians can offer recommendations that previously only came from a very senior technician. Then if that technician sends a video of the failed items to the consumer, the customer now sees them as an expert, which is what the consumer wants and what they're expecting from a dealership. So the technicians become experts faster, and that leads to higher customer satisfaction.
How else can AI improve customer service in fixed ops departments?
Natural language processing can be used to detect sentiment of the customer. If you're getting a text message or a voicemail, it can route that to the appropriate department so it can lead to better [appointment] scheduling. We're also using machine learning and AI to improve customer experience. When the customer texts back to the dealership, [machine learning] provides the dealer immediate insight into the sentiment of the communication. [For example], we send out a one-question survey [after service is completed]. We're using AI to read that survey and take action. If it's a great survey we immediately serve up a link for a Google review. Perhaps it's a bad survey; we immediately apologize and ask how can we make it better.
We found trust plays a key role in both retaining and winning back customers for the service department. With the right mix of AI technology and customer-focused strategies, dealers can provide a more proactive and personalized service.
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