In February, we participated in the first Innovation Safari at the “Deutschen Remarketing Kongress” and won the pitch competition. The challenge was to come up with innovative, digital solutions for car dealerships, in our case, for a test drive. In a 24h hackathon we developed a chatbot arranging test drives automatically for car dealers via Facebook Messenger.
Why do car dealers need a chatbot now?
Since we had the great chance of working together with Autohaus Köpper, we were able to learn about their current situation on arranging test drives.
- One of the main problems was the lack of 24/7 availability, as experienced customers were requesting at times such as 5am, when nobody was able to respond.
- There is always a hefty amount paperwork involved, which leads to a great potential of digitalization.
- There is the demand of dragging 4-5 people throughout the process which is consuming time and resources. The time consumed could definitely be better invested into closing deals.
All of the mentioned problems will be addressed in the following post explaining step by step how all needed information can be collected via a chatbot and how the test drive can be scheduled without occupying employees.
Step 1: Selecting a car via chatbot
In the first step the user is being asked to choose a car brand and then the specific model. It makes sense to use specific templates for each car to give more details such as aesthetics, pricing, years, etc.
Step 2: Scheduling an appointment via chatbot
After a particular car is selected, an appointment for the test drive needs to be arranged. There are several options to implement a solution for this. You can either ask the user to type in a date in a standard format (dd/mm/yyyy) or even embed a webview that has a calendar in it. In our case, the chatbot will process the given date and check with a database which hours are still available. These timeframes will be represented in quick replies/buttons where the user can choose his/her prefered time or go back to change the date.
Step 3: Collecting relevant documents
Now it’s time to put an end to the paperwork issue. The user will be asked to upload all relevant documents such as his/her ID, driver’s license, etc. The chatbot can already extract crucial information e.g. name, age, address by using the Vision and NLP APIs by Google in order to store the data in a CRM. In case you were wondering how the personal data can be stored securely. Google offers a data loss prevention API (Beta) which automatically recognizes sensitive data (text or images) and obscures specific elements such as names, address, etc. Last but not least, a legal agreement for the test drive can be sent to the user that he/she needs to sign. There is either the option that the user takes a photo of the signed agreement and uploads it or he/she takes it to the test drive and hands it in there.
Step 4: Summary and confirmation
In the last step the user has the chance to confirm his/her test drive to make sure all dates are correct.
Step 5: Reminder
It makes sense to remind the driver of his/her booked test drive one day before to minimize drop outs.
Step 6: Feedback
The day after, the user receives an automated message asking for the customers feedback on the test drive. This is a great chance to collect valuable information which can help improve your own service as a car dealer. Additionally, this gives opportunity to remind the test driver, which in turn can increase the likelihood of a deal. For example, you can send him a dedicated overview or summary of the car pointing out its unique selling points.
This was a rough draft of our prototype which we have developed for a car dealer. With this innovation, we believe that not only the whole process can be optimized but also 70% of the workload can be reduced as well as reaching 50% less drop outs. However, there are many more use cases for this branch than just arranging a test drive. For instance, the chatbot could be used to present all current car models and answer FAQs such as opening hours or product related questions.
As always: Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
Michelle Skodowski is a co founder of BOTfriends with a primary focus on chatbot design and UX. However, as the CMO of the company, she is not only in charge of marketing & PR but also HR & Recruiting. She has also spoken at various events such as the Google Cloud Summit or the Hashtag.Business. As she was bootstrapping the startup, she managed to graduate at the University of Applied Sciences in Würzburg in E-Commerce and had the great chance to work at companies such as eBay or Bosch Rexroth along her study.