Don’t want to talk to a car salesperson? Consider talking to a Facebook chat bot instead. On Tuesday, car sales website Edmunds.com debuted a new tool that enables prospective buyers to avoid talking to humans, and permits them to interact with artificial intelligence instead. The beta form of the chat bot lives inside Facebook Messenger and aims to help customers find their way to the right place to get the right car.
At his presentation at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Nick Gorton, vice president of product innovation at Edmunds, noted that the new bot would allow the company to “meet customers where they are.” Increasingly, he noted, this means going to mobile messaging apps. Gorton said that this type of chat service will allow customers to communicate in the way they prefer — increasingly, on mobile messaging apps — but still get the information they want.
Trace Przyblowicz, automotive lead for Facebook, echoed these sentiments, noting, “A.I. will free resources at the dealer, [and] the consumer then really gets to control their time.”
To use the bot, a buyer simply sends an inquiry via Facebook, whereupon Edmund’s new tool responds with “a personalized comment,” which hopefully leads to a broader conversation about the desired car type. The bot can then search Edmund’s website and send the buyer to the appropriate dealer. At some point, of course, the conversation moves out of the automated realm, as a live representative is needed to either offer a test drive or close the deal.
While this may seem like an easy solution to all your car-buying woes, the LA Times reports that audiences at the LA Auto Show were a bit wary of the new technology. David Shapiro, CEO of car buying and leasing service Cartelligent, said, “I don’t think we’re going to shift to buying cars through chat bots that use A.I. to respond. Buying a car is complex — more complex than buying a pair of shoes or a plane ticket.” he said.
All the same, if you want to try a machine-based car-buying process, now’s your chance!