Chatbots might seem like just a fun way to kill some time, but these programs are quicking turning into useful tools for the automotive industry. What chatbot trends can we look forward to in 2019, and how will they impact the auto industry?

1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Buying a car can be an intimidating experience with so many different years, makes and models on the market today. If you don’t know exactly what you want, you can spend days or weeks searching for the perfect match. Automotive sales site Cars.com is hoping to change that process by utilizing artificial intelligence and chatbots to help you find your ideal match.

In 2018, the site launched its AI match campaign — “We Met on Cars.com” — to make it easier to find a new car. Instead of searching by make and model, the site allows you to search by lifestyle preferences. Search by how you’re going to use the car — as a daily driver or for hauling kids to soccer practice, for example — and Cars.com will give you up to 20 matches to choose from.

This site will even help you find matches that are close to your current location, so you won’t have to drive across the country or pay exorbitant shipping fees to bring your new car home. It uses artificial intelligence to pair car shoppers with the perfect make and model to suit their needs. The goal is to treat each shopper like a human being and encourage them to enjoy the process of purchasing a new car instead of seeing it as a chore.

2. Chatbot Car Purchasing

While you can’t buy a car through a chatbot quite yet, this functionality is coming. Currently, you can use a chatbot to find your perfect vehicle, which is ideal for anyone who doesn’t like spending time or energy searching on their own or talking to salespeople for day or weeks to find a match. Valassis Digital, an advertising agency based out of Michigan, recently launched a Facebook Messenger chatbot designed to match car buyers with their dream cars.

The world is quickly becoming fully digital, and being able to chat with a bot that can check local dealership inventories, estimate the trade-in value of your current car, set appointments for test drives or vehicle services and even help you find a pre-approved auto loan is a big game changer.

If you’ve got questions about a particular make or model of vehicle or feel unsure whether you’d be better off with a gasoline-powered option or an energy-saving electric vehicle, you’ll find that the bot can answer most common queries. For questions that it isn’t able to respond to, the dealerships have the option to provide a customized answer.

In addition to helping consumers, the bot can also help car dealerships by providing them with anonymous information, such as how many people are looking at a particular car. The bot doesn’t give any identifying information to dealerships without the express permission of the user — an essential for many tech-savvy shoppers who don’t want to their inboxes filled with spam — but it can help these sellers improve their business.

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3. Continuing the Relationship

Purchasing the car is just the first step in what could potentially be a long and fruitful relationship between a dealership and a client. Most car owners spend roughly $1,200 on automotive maintenance in six years, which can be beneficial for dealerships if the customer returns to the shop where they purchased the car.

For consumers, a chatbot can serve as a reminder to bring their car back into the shop when it needs regular maintenance. These bots can even be programmed to allow the customer to make a service appointment remotely, effectively killing two birds with one stone. For dealerships, it can help to form a long and lasting relationship with clients, something that’s rare to find in today’s world.

If the Facebook Messenger car shopping chat bot takes off, we might see more of these programs shaping the automotive industry in the coming year.

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3 Chatbot Trends That Will Impact the Auto Industry was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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