By Leonard Buchholz,Sales and Marketing Manager,DealerPro Training
EV, AI, CSI, KPI… we've become obsessed with making words into letters, especially in our business.
The new kid on the block - AI, has been getting a lot of press recently. AI this and AI that. It’s beginning to feel a little "Reverish, you know, "one if by link, two if you buy the upgrade," and by all accounts, we need to get ready to be invaded by technology that thinks faster than us and does not have an attitude. Yet.
And there is an undercurrent that AI will somehow make things more manageable, more "homogenized," and, in my opinion, flavorless. I can’t believe a world where "everything, everywhere, all at once manageability" would be a great place to live. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor."
Anyways, while there has been a lot of anticipation that AI will change the way we do business (it will), what we are not talking about is how it won’t change our business.
5 Things AI Won't Change
Here are five things that will not change:
1. Kiosks will not replace humans – The role of the kiosk is to supplement the experience. Ok, some people like kiosks. I like them in certain situations. At the bank to make a cash withdrawal (who does that anymore?), at the airport to check in (who does that anymore?), and at the supermarket to check out if I only have a few items. (I have a part-time job at several stores now, no benefits or pay, but I get out of there on my own schedule, which is nice). And when I have a problem, I don't ask the kiosk; I ask a human. Supplemental, get it? It can make the transaction easier, but it can't make the relationship better. I'll get to that in a minute.
2. Coaching your employees – AI won’t be able to do it. Even Jarvis stops short of telling Iron Man what he needs to do next, preferring to remind him, "Sir, the more you struggle, the more this is going to hurt." But AI can’t get to the nitty gritty of coaching someone to excellence. It can’t replace the human-to-human connection and the ability of one person to make a difference in the other person by pointing out how they can improve in a manner that the other person listens to them and decides to make a change based on trust and the coach’s observations and input.
3. Counseling your employees and managing effective confrontation – Someone wearing a pair of shoes needs to be able to talk and reason with an employee and remind them when they are out of line. Granted, we can get emotional, maybe too emotional (it’s only happened to me, I’m sure), and we can lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish. But that is the human side of us, and true leaders know this about themselves and use that controlled emotion to specify the change required and get a result from the other person. Maybe inspirational even?
4. Which brings me to being Inspirational – I
can't see AI being inspirational. I can see it being instructive. I can see it
being illuminating. I can see it being completely truthful in its ability to
present important information that leads to change. But, I can't see it
standing in front of a group of people, William Wallace style, saying,
"Now tell me, what does that mean to be noble? Your title gives you claim
to the throne of our country, but men don't follow titles. They follow
courage." And then going off the fight the battle. It's not going to
happen. People lead people.
5. Finally, there is the relationship – As I said earlier, AI can make a transaction faster, easier, and better, but it can’t take the relationship to a different level. The technology that can truly evolve with another person and nurture a strong relationship with a human connection does not exist. Maybe AI will invent it... who knows.
Inbound calls, online appointments, inventory adjustments, and even technician productivity, yes, yes, yes, and yes! Let’s have it. Give me the information I need to make better decisions, increase business, etc. But talking to a technician about your observations and the steps they need to take to make improvements, no. Advising a customer that the part is out of stock “but on the way and will be in on Tuesday. Let’s make you an appointment, and I’ll take care of you when you come in, and I’m sorry about the delay” …no. Pointing out that wearing open-toed shoes, a t-shirt with “Rock On” emblazoned on the front, and shorts in a professional business environment is not acceptable, no.
AI is coming. It’s going to change lots of things. It will make some things we do now look obsolete and out of touch. It's going to present information in a way we haven’t thought of before. It will be transformational.
It will not be able to provide leadership and vision, and it won’t replace the simple act of saying “Thank you, I appreciate you” and have it make a difference. You need people to do that.
Leonard Buchholz is the Sales and Marketing Manager for DealerPro Training. His background includes professional workshop and seminar delivery, fixed operations, and communications. He has completed onsite, in-depth fixed operation evaluations in automotive dealerships across the country.