Let’s chat

By on Dec 1, 2020 in Marketing, Technology

Property management chatbots have been a hot topic lately, especially for multifamily rentals. A chatbot can meet renters’ increasing demands for digital communication and capture more leasing opportunities, but only if it’s used wisely.

First, we’ll talk about why you should consider “hiring” a chatbot if you don’t have one on staff already. Then, we’ll show you three things your chatbot should be able to do. Finally, watch a short video to get chatbot tips from expert marketer Drew Davis, who spent months talking to chatbots in different industries to see what works and what doesn’t.

Why a chatbot?

Employing a chatbot as part of your customer experience team can ensure you never miss an incoming leasing opportunity, day or night, and it frees up onsite staff to focus on assisting applicants and residents.

If you don’t have a chatbot yet, you’re probably losing leases to competitors that do. That’s because customers expect instant and accurate answers to their questions. They hate waiting. In fact, in a survey on response times that included more than 3,000 customers, 88% of respondents expected a response within an hour, with 33% of them saying they expect an answer in 15 minutes or less.

Is that realistic for your agents, especially when you factor in after-hours contacts? Probably not. That’s where a chatbot comes in handy.

But do people really want to talk to a bot? Recent data says they do. The 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report found that 48% of renters say they would use a chatbot in their next rental search. That number is anticipated to grow as chatbot adoption becomes increasingly common across multiple industries. A 2019 report by Chatbots Life predicts that chatbots will handle 85% of human interactions online within the next five years.

3 things your chatbot should do

Optimize conversions

Treat your chatbot as an extension of your leasing team. It needs to solve for common questions and provide a path for users to take the next step, whether that’s scheduling a tour or filling out an online application. As such, your bot is the ultimate conversion rate optimization (CRO) tool.

Optimization is all about automation. A chatbot automates your top-of-funnel sales process, allowing your leasing team to quickly help customers, decrease wait times and eliminate human error. It should be able to manage entry-level lead interactions completely on autopilot, freeing up your agents to focus on valuable, bottom-of-funnel conversion opportunities.

Chat (like, really chat)

A lot of bots are great at CRO, but they can’t actually have a conversation with your customers. Prospects can’t ask them anything. They can only click buttons to reveal information about standard inquiry topics, like pet policies, availabilities and tour scheduling.

But we all know renters today have lots of questions, like “Do you have electric vehicle charging stations?” and “What are your common area cleaning procedures?” The more answers they can get, the more comfortable they will be taking the next step in the leasing journey. That’s why you need a bot that can chat with them, like, really chat.

The best chatbots use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to read and respond to incoming questions on any topic. They can even understand misspellings and bad or nontraditional grammar, for example “u” instead of “you.”

Learn new things

When it comes to answering renters’ questions, make sure your bot can get specific. Ask potential providers what happens if there’s something the chatbot doesn’t know the answer to. Can you train it? Or will that question continually require being transferred to an agent for a response?

Ideally, you want a chatbot that can learn new things, just like any other member of your team. If you choose a bot that’s trainable, it will track which questions it couldn’t answer. Then, if and when you see the same question come up more than once, you can teach it to provide an answer by inputting sample questions and responses. It should be able to use its artificial intelligence to learn from your training, then identify and answer similar questions.

3 simple chatbot secrets

Once you have a chatbot, you can’t just set it and forget it. Learn how to create a chatbot experience that works for you (instead of against you) in the latest episode of Moments of Genius with Drew Davis.

RENTCafé Chat IQ

Our property management chatbot was designed with these needs (and more) in mind. Join a RENTCafé Chat IQ webinar to see what’s possible with a bot that truly understands your customers and can both chat and text with them. You can also view the RENTCafé Chat IQ brochure to learn more.