AI: Getting Smart About Customer Retention

Customer Retention

Artificial intelligence is literally everywhere these days, but it has been building for decades to its current level of saturation and accessibility. Twenty years ago, I was certified in business intelligence software, which had machine-learning (ML) components but was limited to highly trained users. Now even kids are using AI-backed technology.

As AI continues to grow at an exponential rate, we will no doubt see unprecedented opportunities for improved problem-solving in all areas of life.

At the dealership, that means smarter, more efficient ways to find and keep customers via predictive behavior targeting and the ability to drive behavior. Even though AI involves massive data-crunching via complex algorithms and ML, when done right it provides actionable solutions that are easy to implement – solutions that lead to more cars sold, with increased profits, while seamlessly improving the customer experience.

The Difference Between AI and ML

Before we dig into the details of how AI can help grow your dealership and the automotive industry overall, let me give you a brief definition of both artificial intelligence and machine learning, as these terms can and quite often do get confused.

AI is when computers/machines perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence, e.g., understanding language, recognizing objects and sounds, planning, learning, and problem solving.

ML is how machines achieve AI, without being explicitly programmed to do so. That is, instead of humans entering insanely long lines of code to cover as many possibilities as we can, machines “learn” by being fed huge amounts of data and recognizing patterns, etc.

Dealerships are a prime environment for putting AI into action due to all of the data available via the DMS, social media and the internet, etc. The more data fed into ML, the faster its learning capabilities. And the faster it learns, the faster it reaches its goal.

Power Tools

Dealerships today have a huge opportunity to stand out in their customers’ minds by making their experiences unique, meaningful, and memorable through the use of artificial intelligence.

It starts with knowing your customer better than the competition, which requires powerful ML. AutoAlert technology can (1) handle large amounts of newly created data, (2) largely increase the amount of data inside the models, (3) analyze the diversity of data in models, (4) take into account the timeliness/context of the data, and (5) determine that the measurements of the data actually produced something valuable. Bottom line, our AI has few limiting factors in regard to learning about your customers.

Which is powerful because you can compile and process huge amounts of data on your customers, as well as the data’s interactions beyond rules-based systems, allowing you to make better predictions – and better meet your customers’ needs, both today and in the future.

For your current customers, this includes opportunities that your competition could never touch, because data is pulled from your DMS and analyzed along with other data to create the most appealing, relevant offers.

Not only is AutoAlert unlimited in its ability to learn about your customers; it’s also unlimited in how that intelligence is applied at your dealership. Because even with the most intelligent AI available, you still need to be able to translate your newfound knowledge into dollars.

How AI Helps Build Customer Retention

AI can help us learn the things we’ve always wanted to know about our customers: what they want, what action they’re ready to take, what they want to spend, etc. Yes, we want to make the sale, but we also want to provide the best service and experience possible.

The analyzation of millions of data points on customers certainly improves your odds of being successful. Having all of that data, along with personalized deals for every customer generated from it, available in a centralized location that’s easy for staff to access at all times makes it truly actionable.

For example, your team will know which customers to reach out to, with the exact deal that appeals to them most – deals that allow you to trade keys at a profit. This information can be used in a phone call, on the showroom floor, in the service lane, on social, etc. It revolutionizes direct mail, because instead of spray and pray, customers get unique deals made specifically for them, branded with your OEM and dealership.

And that leads to driving behavior, not just predicting it.

In the service lane, you’ll know exactly when a customer with a buying opportunity arrives (even if they’ve never bought from you) and what to say to them without sounding awkward.

The same goes for customers who arrive in desirable pre-owned and CPO vehicles. Be alerted immediately and approach them with deals that appeal to them to turn your service lane into your best solution for used-car sourcing.

Or, look up one of your pre-owned vehicles and see the number of your customers who could purchase it today, at a profit to your dealership. Simply click on the number, see who they are and exactly why they might be interested, and start a conversation.

Here are a few more ways AI is helping dealerships and OEMS win and keep more customers:

1. Predictive Marketing

Elicit an event (car sale, service appointment, etc.) from customers at both the aggregate level as well as the individual level through the prediction of patterns, outcomes, and trends based on customer transactional metadata, behavioral data, and demographic/psychographic data.

2. Behavioral Marketing

Predict customer actions via their behavior on websites, rather than just via the content of the pages they visit, in order to create more appropriate, tailored messages in your ads.

3. Buying Propensity

Rank customers (lead scoring) based on previous purchase history at the aggregate level and/or at the customer’s individual level, and use that ranking to accurately predict who is likely to purchase imminently.

The result of all of this data calculation is improved personalization for an enhanced customer experience. Continually reach your customers with helpful messages, and they’ll come to rely on you as their go-to automotive solution, providing something other dealerships can’t: precisely what they want, when they want it.

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