Artificial Intelligence could transform every part of the car buying and ownership experience. That’s according to CarLabs.ai, a technology firm working with major car companies to make AI a seamless and helpful tool, both for car shoppers and existing owners.
- CarLabs.ai is already working with car companies like Kia, Honda, and BMW.
- Artificial Intelligence is meant to streamline the car buying process.
- AI could also educate owners about their vehicle’s features, and send updates about maintenance issues and recalls.
- CarLabs.ai says up to 60-percent of the interaction between a consumer and car brand could be handled intelligent computers.
Talking to a machine is usually the last thing anyone wants to do when there’s a series of important questions they need answered promptly, and with a bare minimum of voice-activated prompts. So, why would a conversation handled by a computer be a better choice for anyone considering buying a car, or someone who has questions about anything from finance options, to getting a set of keys replaced?
The answer, according to CarLabs’ Chief Growth Officer Brendan Flynn, is partly rooted in convenience. By having a knowledgeable assistant — one that lives permanently in a hard drive — there to answer questions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More important are the rapid advancements Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is making, especially when it comes to the increasingly seamless quality of the consumer/computer conversation, according to Flynn.
For the moment, the systems CarLabs.ai has developed are tasked with handling simpler questions, which leaves extra capacity for humans to tackle more complex issues. “You’ll always need a human, there will be a moment that’s very complex and too complicated,” says Flynn. He says the current goal is for AI devices/assistants to field approximately 60-percent of consumer questions or requests.
Flynn adds that another key part of AI’s future in the car world is to change the consumer’s perception of a car company. “The customer experience is really what consumer’s consider the brand to be,” he says. In an era of shifting brand preferences and new mobility solutions, this consumer-meets-brand conversation is becoming increasingly important. And in a future where cars will increasingly be driving us, a high level of customer satisfaction could be the deciding factor between which brand a person chooses.
“The next thing we’re moving into is that OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers, i.e. car companies] have bought into the concept that the customer should be first and they need to get them information,” says Flynn. “It’s the most fundamental shift that we’re seeing. The OEMs want to be the customer-facing organization.”
How does this help a car buyer or car owner? To start, at a brand-specific website someone could use a single AI-based system to ask any number of questions. Do you want to schedule a test drive? Is your lease about to expire? Do you need a second set of keys made? What colors are available on the car you’re considering? AI allows the “de-silofication” of the automotive world, says Flynn. Rather than scrolling countless menus and online sections, one portal could handle a vast range of consumer enquiries.
“The questions I used to get were ‘do consumers really want to chat with the brand?’ Suddenly, everyone is very sophisticated and asking for advice on their AI conversations strategy,” says Flynn.
With cars becoming more and more complex, an AI virtual assistant could also take extra time to explain all the available features – a task that might bog down a carbon-based lifeform at a busy dealership. This same AI software could alert owners to a recall, send a maintenance reminders, or even suggest vehicle choices during the car buying process.
Flynn explains that current AI systems at the car shopping phase take note of a consumer’s questions and preferences. For example, if the questions focus primarily on cargo space and passenger room, the AI system knows to recommend a larger vehicle, one with more seating and luggage flexibility.
With subscription services becoming increasingly popular in the car world, these same AI systems could learn from a consumer’s behavior and driving patterns, and suggest models to suit their needs. A car company’s AI system could become a kind of personal valet, to a large degree.
WHY THIS MATTERS
As car companies evolve to meet new consumer demands, the process of buying and owning a car is about to change, too. While speaking with a robot sounds bizarre, it could provide a new and much improved level of customer care and service.