Chatbots have been around for a long time, but it’s only recently that they’ve become part of our daily lives. When designed correctly, chatbots feel smart, seamless and user friendly — almost like you’re communicating with a real person. And now that they’ve made their way into real estate, property managers are getting on board.
Let’s look at a few ways chatbots improve your property marketing, help you attract high-quality prospects and retain current residents.
A brief history of chatbots
If you’re of the right age (and can think back to the year 2000), you might remember SmarterChild, the friendly neighborhood AOL chatbot. It was, in fact, the first chatbot of the internet era. With over 30 million online friends, SmarterChild had society hooked. This early bot could easily get you stock quotes, movie times, weather reports, etc.
Fast-forward 20-plus years and chatbots are everywhere. There are over 300,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone. If you contact customer service on platforms such as Amazon and Hulu, you’ll be greeted by a bot that attempts to resolve your issue (e.g., offer refunds, check missed deliveries). If it can’t, you’ll be directed to a live agent.
To understand how there came to be so many chatbots in the world (and why your business should consider one tailored to this industry), it’s important to understand why they’re so popular.
In other words, what makes them “click” with millions of users worldwide?
Part of it has to do with the fact that text is faster and easier to generate than sound or video. In the early days of dial up internet, music and video took forever to load. Even a quick soundbite could be a hassle to download and install. Text messages, on the other hand, could be delivered instantly. A chatbot could gather and deliver a ton of information in the blink of an eye.
While sound and video downloads have gotten faster over time, texting is faster still. And that takes us to the present day.
1. There’s power in text
If the early internet was full of innovation and never-before-seen technology, today’s advancements are all about getting those early ideas to reach their full potential.
Unlike earlier chatbots, the latest AI benefits from decades of technological advancement. It even boasts a stunning functionality called natural language processing. This advanced tech is better able to interpret a user’s meaning and intent. It recognizes slang, typos, bad grammar, etc. Basically, your customers can chat with it naturally and comfortably, as they would with a real person.
Get a chatbot made for property management
To provide clients with the latest technology, Yardi developed a chatbot of our own called RentCafe Chat IQ. Property managers can now access Chat IQ as an add-on to Yardi Breeze Premier and RentCafe Leasing. Unlike general purpose bots, Chat IQ is built with the needs of property managers in mind. With it, you can provide real-time information on pricing, unit availability, amenities, property tours and more.
It matters that these conversations happen quickly and efficiently. You and your team no longer have to spend time crafting email/text responses to the same questions over and over. The bot knows just what to say. It also knows when it’s time to get a human involved.
2. Texting makes communication refreshingly simple
Just how necessary is it to be good at text messaging? For millennials and Gen Z, it’s hard to exaggerate the importance. For example, younger people would prefer their friends text the word “here” rather than ring the doorbell. And if it weren’t for professional communications, the voicemail would probably be a thing of the past too.
So, what does all of this talk about renters in their late teens, 20s and 30s have to do with chatbots?
In both the doorbell and voicemail examples, we see an unmistakable trend: Younger generations see old tech as being inefficient and even personally invasive. And they may have a point. The sound of the doorbell can make dogs go crazy, wake up the baby, startle you, etc.
Plus, it takes less time to text someone than it does to hear a phone ring for 30 seconds, wait for the beep, leave your message, wait for the other person and so forth.
The truth is we’re not here to hate on doorbells and voicemails. We simply want to emphasize that texting is a simple but powerful tool that millions (maybe billions) of people take advantage of every day. Your business can harness that power with a chatbot designed for you.
Looking to explore the effect the younger generation is having on real estate? Check out some big ways Generation Z will affect property management this decade.
3. Your team gets an immediate boost
In case this was ever in question, you can tell your team that a chatbot is not meant to replace human employees. On the contrary, by automating simple communications, you’re giving your staff the opportunity to focus more on high-level tasks.
Plus, the chatbot is designed to turn things over to a live agent if and when it can no longer assist them. That way, the customer doesn’t have to deal with awkward, repetitive feedback from a chatbot that doesn’t know what to do.
Pro tip: Chat IQ lets a live agent take over at any time, even if the bot is doing just fine.
Midnight is not a work night
A property manager’s work never stops. After all, there can be so much pressure to respond to prospects right away — day or night. But with a chatbot, you just might get some of those evening hours back. When you and your team leave work for the day, the chatbot will still be there 24/7.
4. You provide up-to-date info at all times
The last thing you want your chatbot to do is provide the wrong information. Pricing, amenities and unit availability need to be accurate. That’s why Chat IQ is the ideal bot for property managers and leasing agents. It integrates with your RENTCafé listing data, so anytime a question is asked, the data it pulls for its responses is always up to date.
Error-free consistency is key
Chatbots don’t have moods. They’re never in a rush. Their routines are never interrupted. Every time they respond, it’s with the same care and professionalism you would give if you were, well, a robot. If you’ve ever forgotten to send the attachment you refer to in an email, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Eliminate typos, grammatical errors, old data and other forms of human error with an intelligent, intuitive chatbot.
5. All property data is tracked
In a world where there are literally thousands of bots that you could potentially add to your website, product design matters. You should be able to see all conversation data in a single dashboard that you can filter by channel, average conversation length and more.
Once you have that information, you’ll have insight into issues that might be affecting your marketing and resident retention:
- Are you missing amenities that would help convert more renters?
- Is your pricing structure based on the market and what people are willing to pay?
- What information are customers looking for?
- Are your listings up to date with the latest copy and photos?
- What pain points are you missing?
As your chatbot collects more and more data over time, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that help you attract high-quality renters, retain current residents and please your owners. That’s a win-win-win if there ever was one!
Okay, you’re interested in a chatbot. What’s next?
We know chatbots have great potential to help property management businesses improve their marketing and retain residents. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, check out Chat IQ for yourself.
Or just contact us to see our chatbot in action.