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COX Automotive Australia (Cox) has launched a new cutting edge customer leads management system that can leverage the latest in AI technology to manage enquiries from initial contact in what is described as a virtual customer relations team.

Called LeadDriver, the system lives on a new platform built by Cox Automotive Australia to host the new products and new services the company plans in the coming years. 

The LeadDriver application is the first to use the new platform and was developed over the past year working hand-in-hand with many of Cox Automotive Australia’s dealer customers trialling systems and conducting workshops with clients. 

It is tailor-made for dealership management to follow the complete road to the sale from the initial enquiry to delivery and beyond.

It also provides background analytics with leads and sales results trends presented on performance dashboards in easy viewing graphics.

The AI component of LeadDriver uses software developed by Impel to hold out-of-hours and daytime follow-up conversations with customers acting as a virtual additional sales team. Sales staff can step in at any time to take over the contact or even pass it back to the AI for tracking down hard-to-find customers.

Cox said that it will assist prospective car buyers while empowering busy dealer staff, freeing up time for building ongoing relationships and closing deals. 

With LeadDriver’s AI integration enabled, the follow-up is automated – so it does not forget – while the ‘conversations’ use natural language and are highly responsive and intuitive. 

Cox said that using LeadDriver to its full extent “is like taking on additional customer support staff who are on call, all the time”.

It said that it was vital today that dealers are ready to expand their capabilities in handling enquiries, given that almost 40 per cent come outside of regular working hours as customers conduct their research online.  

The AI element is also relentless in tracking down customers who have left enquiries that regular staff subsequently find difficult to track down and can waste valuable time following up people who often wind up as genuine buyers. 

The AI works away in the background seeking to re-establish contact and is being seen as a vital tool on cutting down on the 30 per cent of leads that traditionally never get contacted. 

The LeadDriver system integrates with all dealer leads sources and with the dealership management system (DMS). It is also being prepared for integration with the in-house management systems operated by the larger dealer groups.  

Customers of Cox Automotive’s current leads management offering, Engage, will be progressively moved across to LeadDriver.

Cox CEO Stephen Lester said the LeadDriver launch was an example of the company’s “ethos of continual improvement and desire to stay at the forefront”.  

Stephen Lester

“I’m proud of our Australian team for developing this market-leading solution, which will help dealers and their  teams to better meet the needs of their customers and ultimately convert more enquiries to sales,” Mr Lester said.

“At the same  time, LeadDriver offers retail buyers an improved customer experience and the ability to continue conversations with the dealer at their own pace.” 

Cox head of product, Gillian Allen, said the system “is really fast, it is modern, and it works on a mobile, a desktop or a tablet and it just works seamlessly on all of those different devices”.

She said that in addition to the AI customer contact functions, LeadDriver “shows how far along any particular lead is that’s coming through; has that person been contacted, has an appointment been made, was the lead qualified, (and we’ve got qualifying questions), did you give a finance quote, was there a test drive and so on?” 

“It shows each of the statuses along that journey right through those either delivered or lost so that when the salesperson at the dealership jumps into the lead monitoring system, they know at a glance where it is in the journey. 

Gillian Allen

“It is really visually easy and quick and shows at a glance when was this person last contacted. You can look at the history or the notes. Did the AI engage this person, did the AI not? When was the phone call? What was discussed? What was the SMS that was sent? Was there a test drive? When was it?” 

The LeadDriver system also manages test drive vehicles and loan cars and covers enquiries for new and used cars. It also supports the journey for both the buying and selling of cars to the dealership.

“One of the most important things in a dealership is to really nurture that inquiry or lead and convert it to a sale and what we wanted to do was take any kind of pain or friction away from that process by making our tool so easy that it supports that journey natively.

“And that’s what we wanted to achieve with these really clean lines and an easy-to-use system by making it really clear at any one point in time exactly where an inquiry is in the process and what is its status,” Ms Allen said.

Asked about the AI conversations, Ms Allen said: “In the traditional model, everyone in the dealership has gone home. But the AI can then automatically come back and start a conversation with the person who is enquiring. 

“So on a Thursday evening I can start a conversation and not even know it is an AI, and be asking about a vehicle’s details and engaging with the dealership.

“The next day there would be a seamless handover from AI to the dealership as they see all of that information and that conversation in our system. So they know that that’s happened and they can jump straight in to take over from the AI because this is a hot lead or looking good.

‘So they can phone directly to bring that through for the win or they can leave it for the AI to manage and check back in later and whatever way they choose. 

“It really puts the power back in the dealership’s hands. But what we’re really doing is transforming the way that dealers will be able to manage and engage early with all of those enquiries.

Additionally, Ms Allen said, the AI can be put to work contacting people who are hard to find. 

“You can leave the AI working away in the background trying to contact them. And then once they are contacted the dealership gets alerted.

“Even if the dealership was really quick to get back the person they are contacting might be busy, or sick, or in meetings or they are just not available at that time. And then you kind of play phone tag or email tag and you miss the person. It can be days later.

“But the AI just doesn’t have that challenge,” she said.

By John Mellor and Neil Dowling

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