Car Dealership Sales Assistant Tiffany Is Cheerful, Helpful and Unreal

Sales assistant Tiffany seems like dealership employee-of-the-month material. She’s cheerful and helpful. Her work is unreal. Literally. She doesn’t exist. Not as a human, anyway. Neither does Crystal, Denise, Rachel, Heidi, Eva and other such virtual sales assistants at about 800 dealerships using Conversica’s artificial-intelligence system for digital communications with customers who submit emails about vehicles of interest. Those people invariably believe they’re dealing with an actual employee. The AI never declares something like, “BTW, I’m not human.” People draw their own conclusions. Most think the virtual sales assistants are real. Some appreciative customers even send gifts. Individual dealerships come up with the virtual assistants’ names, or “their own virtual personae,” says Carl Landers, Conversica’s chief marketing officer. The system isn’t out to deceive people, he says. “It’s trying to…


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