Wow, what a year! From being acquired by Cars.com in February of 2018, to the multiple platform and product improvements we rolled out the past 365 days – join us as we take a look back and chart our growth in our never ending quest to be the essential digital platform partner for your dealership.
To kick off 2018, we introduced our A.I powered chatbot, Ana, into Conversations℠. Ana has an ever growing set of skills including the ability to greet shoppers, answer questions, capture leads and even provide trade-in estimates.
Since coming online, Ana has been saving our clients tons of time by answering many of their customers questions on her own – freeing up BDC and Sales teams to focus on other sales, service and retention related activities.
Early on in 2018, it was announced that Cars.com had acquired Dealer Inspire. This union created a dynamic duo that is now able to drive digital dealer solutions forward by providing the most comprehensive set of products and services for dealers to generate sales and efficiencies
As you’ll see below, it didn’t take long for our two companies to begin working together to combine our technologies in our never ending quest to help you future proof your dealership. You can expect this kind of innovative collaboration to continue in 2019 as well. Join us at NADA 2019 for a sneak peek at what’s coming!
Towards the end of February, we released version 3.0 of our iOS mobile app for Conversations℠, which was nearly a complete rebuild. Like with previous versions of the app, v3.0 allows teams to quickly connect and convert shoppers on the move, with all the same features of the full Conversations℠ platform just a tap away. What new is crazy fast performance and a cleaner design that gets out of your way and helps you complete chats (much) quicker.
It took all of two and a half weeks for the Cars.com and Dealer Inspire teams to introduce their first collaborative offering, post acquisition. In March we began integrating Conversations℠ into the Cars.com marketplace so dealers can connect with their humongous audience of in-market shoppers in real-time, 24/7 — at no additional cost to Conversations℠ customers.
When a Cars.com shopper has a question about one of your vehicles, they can now easily start a chat right from the VDP. Ana Bot will greet the shopper, and answer any basic questions herself. If the shopper has a question that Ana can’t handle, she’ll seamlessly pass it on the your managed chat team to take it from there.
We’re always striving to bring more value to our clients, and in May of 2018 we rolled out advanced Conversations℠ reporting to give each individual dealership more advanced real-time insight into their team’s chats with customers.
What kind of real-time stats you ask? Well how about a complete breakdown of your incoming chats (over any custom period), and how your team performed in terms of answering chats promptly and converting them into leads. You now also have greater insight into how many opportunities are being missed so you can work on your overall responsiveness. If your team ever needs some coaching, our training team is always here for you!
As summer approached, we rolled out an updated version of the Dealer Inspire Knowledgebase, a vast and easy-to-use resource that helps you maximize the powerful features and capabilities of your DI products.
With access to video walkthroughs, step-by-step tutorials, best practices, webinars and more, the Knowledgebase is full of new ways your team can increase efficiencies and sales. If there’s one thing you can do in 2019 to further upgrade your own automotive digital marketing game, it’s to get your team acclimated with the DI Knowledgebase!
Since she first started having conversations, Ana Bot had been dutifully setting up website visitors with test drives and service appointments. Originally, Ana used to require a specific date and time from the customer, and would get thrown for a loop by users who requested appointment times saying something like “the earliest time available” or “anytime on Friday”. After some focused machine learning directed by our engineers, we gave Ana the natural ability to lighten up and she began collecting contact info on unspecified appointments, allowing your team to then follow up.
Earlier in the year, Facebook selected Cars.com as a certified inventory provider for Facebook Marketplace. Again, our two companies were able to collaborate together to give our mutual clients who have Conversations℠ and used inventory listed on Cars.com the ability to reach over one million daily active car shoppers on Facebook Marketplace and collect chat leads through Conversations℠ 24/7.
This connection furthers our mission to help you as a car dealer reach shoppers wherever their sh
The team was busy over the summer building out more features for Conversations℠ and Ana Bot. In August, Ana was given a new skill that allows her to generate enticing trade-in estimates based on just a few easy questions through chat, and then naturally schedule an appointment for an appraisal (and new car!) in the course of conversation.
Applying her complete knowledge of all vehicle models, Ana is able to ask about trims, engines, drivetrains, cab sizes, and more to calculate a VIN-accurate estimate. Her calculations are based off real-time market data, but dealers can build in custom margins for the estimates she shows too.
In 2016, we launched Online Shopper℠ with the technology to take the entire car buying experience online, from customizing real-time bank offers to scheduling delivery. But in 2018, after analyzing engagement data from over 100,000 consumers, we re-engineered Online Shopper℠ to work on its own without any dealer intervention.
Our insights into the data proved to be accurate, because once we rolled out the new version of Online Shopper on our client’s websites, we saw that the personalized, customizable shopping experience, was quickly doubling and sometimes even tripling their lead volume almost immediately.
Lighting Search was an idea that was born out of our never-ending mission to make car buying as fast and easy as possible. When searching with Lightning, consumers will see more relevant vehicles instantly with each letter they type, and if they don’t feel like typing, they can just tell the website what they want!
We’re proud to say that with the introduction of Lightning, we became the first automotive website platform with voice search. How awesome is that?!
To close out the year we began a beta program for Metal℠, our new IMS that accelerates turn using real-time API synchronization and lightning-quick controls, empowering you to move metal faster than any of your competitors.
THANK YOU 🙏🙏🙏
We feel we can sum up everything that happened in 2018 with one simple statement: Through our innovative (kick-ass) culture, legendary service and mobile first technology, we were able to deliver scalable solutions that challenged our partners to provide the best customer experience.
It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without our valued client partners and the entire DI team. If you’re as pumped up as we are about what we were able to accomplish together in 2018, strap yourself in and get ready for 2019, because what we have on the road map for the new year is going to take us all to the next level of awesomeness.