Back to the Future at NAA

By on Jul 1, 2024 in Events

It was a film buff’s paradise last week at the National Apartment’s Association biggest tradeshow, Apartmentalize. In addition to the Yardi Theater showings, eventgoers had the opportunity to attend a session titled “Leasing: Back to the Future with AI & Human Touch.”

Apartmentalize session recap NAA 2024

Led by Paul Yount, industry principal at Yardi, the discussion featured Anne Baum, director of marketing at Towne Properties; Diana Norbury, SVP of multifamily operations at Pillar Properties; and Tyler Lucas, director of marketing technology at Gates Hudson. (Pictured, right.)

Onsite staff were also presented virtually, with Emma Akervold, assistant property manager at Pillar Properties and Leslie Armstrong, area manager at Towne Properties, sharing their thoughts on Chat IQ, Yardi’s virtual assistant that answers to prospects and residents.

Back to the future of customer service & technology

Yount set the stage with a “Back to the Future” theme, even donning Marty McFly’s iconic vest. The theme highlighted how modern renters want traditional customer service nostalgic of the past, but with the efficiency of cutting-edge technology one could expect from the future. (But the good news is that this kind of innovative technology is available today.)

“In the past, hands-on customer service meant compromising staff roles. Great service but very inefficient,” Yount explained. “But today, with the right technology, you can have that great hands-on customer experience and leverage efficiency at the same time.”

Yount demonstrated how customer expectations for excellent service have remained constant, but the means to deliver it have evolved. Drawing parallels between scenes from “Back to the Future” and property management, the session emphasized AI and technology’s role in improving human-centered service and overall efficiency.

Reshaping & elevating onsite roles

The panel discussed how AI and automation reshaped onsite roles to focus more on higher-priority tasks. AI-driven solutions help staff handle repetitive and manual tasks, lightening workloads. This gives teams more time to focus on more meaningful, high-value activities, which leads to better customer experiences and employee satisfaction.

Additionally, AI can instantly provide leasing teams with the information they need to enhance performance. “It’s performing faster than any of us can,” Lucas emphasized.

But AI’s powerful capabilities can’t completely replace human abilities — it just enhances them. Panelists agreed that AI and automation enable property managers to reallocate their resources more effectively, ensuring that human talent is utilized where it can have the greatest impact.

How AI transforms operations

Speakers shared their experiences with Chat IQ, highlighting improvements in lead conversion rates and operational efficiency. They noted a significant reduction in the time between lead inquiries and scheduled appointments, resulting in faster lease conversions and reduced vacancy periods.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in inquiries being scheduled without us having to initiate that conversation,” Akervold, assistant property manager at Pillar Properties, said. “I can’t emphasize enough the value that I find in it.” 

The benefits of AI extend beyond operational efficiency—they also power faster response times and improved lead management, which directly contribute to better occupancy rates and revenue performance.

Team & customer reactions to AI Integration

While skeptical at first, staff members like Leslie Armstrong of Towne Properties eventually embraced AI for its ability to handle routine tasks, freeing them to focus on resident engagement and customer satisfaction. This change led to improved team morale.

“Chat IQ makes our customers feel like we’re always present even after business hours,” Armstrong said. “When I’m at home with my family, I know that my offices are still being supported.” 

As staff attitudes shift towards the support of AI, operators can also look towards using AI to combat staffing issues.

“I think what nobody talks about when you’re short-staffed are that the people that are left behind. It’s a lot of burnout. They feel a lot of the pressure and so it allows you to be a little bit more flexible with operations,” Norbury noted.

Choosing the right AI platform

It’s no secret that the multifamily industry is using AI to get ahead.

Yardi’s innovative AI platform is the most powerful in the industry, resulting in more accurate information, better performance and exceptional customer experiences.

And as one of the most trusted partners in real estate software, we’re here to help you meet every challenge and redefine success. Contact your Yardi representative for a closer look on how we can help.