Respage launched the first ever multifamily chatbot in late May of this year. Two months have past since that launch date, and over that short time we’ve deployed the amazing little chatbots on apartment websites across the country.
This article not only explains what our multifamily chatbots are and why they’re necessary for today’s renters, it also highlights several success stories to show you real world examples of how prospects and properties alike are benefiting from this groundbreaking new tool.
- What is Chatbot and Why Did We Create It?
- Problem #1: Leasing Staff Do Not Work During Peak Apartment Search Hours
- Problem #2: Millennials Hate Calling Your Office
- Problem #3: Live Chat “Solutions” Are Not Real Solutions
- Examples of Chatbot’s Success
- Interactive Demo and Installation
The Respage Multifamily Chatbot is an artificially intelligent chat program that lives on your property website and answers questions for prospective renters. It does not require help from leasing staff to operate, and it’s capable of answering questions related to pricing, floorplans, amenities, pet policies, and much, much more.
We created the Respage Multifamily Chatbots as a solution to the following problems:
• Inconsistency between leasing office hours and the typical hours of rental prospect research
• Preoccupied leasing staff (On tours or calls)
• Budgetary constraints that prevent supplementary leasing staff
• Unforeseen navigation and user experience issues on property websites
• Current market solutions’ inability to address these concerns
In the sections that follow, we will examine the problems above in greater detail and explain how the Respage Multifamily Chatbot provides a remedy for each.
According to an analysis of Google Trends – a tool that shows aggregated search data for all Google keyword queries over time – a majority of apartment-related searches occur before the workday begins. For example, the Trends chart below shows the keyword “apartments for rent” peaked between 5AM and 6AM during the first week of July:
A similar pattern can be seen in this chart, which shows the same keyword peaked around 7AM during the last week of July:
It’s reasonable to assume these patterns are influenced by the workday. Few people research apartment listings while they’re on the clock. They opt for times of the day when they’re not working.
Unfortunately, these times often align with hours when leasing offices are closed. And that’s problematic for three reasons:
Google Searches Are Intent-Based: People who Google apartment-related queries are likely thinking about moving. In other words, these early morning searches are performed by people who are actively looking for a new apartment.
Your Site Likely Has Information Gaps: Very few apartment websites provide every detail about their units and amenities. This leads to information gaps. Information gaps create questions in the minds of prospects.
Prospects Want Their Questions Answered Immediately: We live in an on-demand world. If a prospect has a problem finding information on your site, and can’t get ahold of a leasing agent early in the morning, it could cost you a lease signing.
In a nutshell, the standard hours of most leasing offices don’t align with the ideal research times of prospects. And because people in 2017 need everything done yesterday, properties that can’t provide immediate answers are quickly abandoned.
It’s certainly true that multifamily chatbots aren’t the only solution to the office hour dilemma. Properties have successfully outsourced off-hours calls to call centers for decades. But with changing demographics and advancements in technology, the call center model makes less and less sense in 2017.
There are three things multifamily needs to consider to understand why:
Millennials Are The Primary Rent Demo: Millennials represent the largest rental demographic in the United States. In fact, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, Millennials rent more than GenX, Boomers, and The Great Generation combined. As such, it’s critical property managers do what they can to attract this demographic.
Millennials Are Phone Averse: There’s no need to share statistics about millennial reluctance to make phone calls. You can likely reference your own anecdotal evidence for proof. And with that in mind, ask yourself how this generation might feel about calling a leasing office, or (worse) a call center.
Millennials Are Already Familiar With Chatbots: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with modern day communications technology. So even though the Respage Chatbot is a first-ever for multifamily, many Millennials have interacted with a similar product before – and liked it. According to a December 2016 survey by eMarketer.com, 60 percent of Millennials had used a chatbot, and 40 percent had used a chatbot to make a purchase. It’s worth noting that these stats are nearly a year old, and chatbots are growing more and more popular each day.
At first glance, live chat services seem like a solution to both the typical leasing hours conundrum and the millennial phone aversion conundrum. Live chat representatives are available at all hours of the day. And because they’re messenger based, they don’t require a phone call.
Live chat providers will also quickly point out their services put site visitors directly in touch with human beings – seemingly a slight aimed at AI applications. Unfortunately, what’s meant to be a positive is actually a negative. Here’s why:
Live Chat Representatives Are Notoriously SLOW: Live chat representatives can take more than five minutes to respond to a single question. Many prospective renters simply don’t have time for that. By contrast, the Respage Chatbot responds to all inquiries in less than a second, thanks to an API that pulls community info in real-time.
They’re Only Human: Most Live Chat representatives are trained to take contact information from prospects. But people make mistakes. It’s not uncommon for reps to forget to ask prospects for contact information. So if a potential renter starts a conversation and then leaves, there’s no way to re-contact that person.
Language Issues Create Problems: Live chat services can be had for relatively cheap, but these low rates are made possible by outsourcing. English is not the native language of most representatives. And as a result, language issues occur more frequently than you might like. These can range from simple grammar mistakes to (in more extreme cases) responses that may be interpreted as hostile.
As mentioned in the intro, we’ve installed a ton of chatbots in a little bit less than two months. During this time, our partnering communities have had more stories than we can count. Here’s a look at three we found particularly interesting.
Exhibit A: Deals Through Wheels
The first of our examples comes from John. John was looking for apartments in a large east coast city, and discovered our client’s property website after performing a Google search.
Take Away #1: Conversation Occurred at 8 PM
We mentioned above that most apartment searches take place late at night and early in the morning. John’s 8 PM conversation fits this pattern. It’s also notable the property’s office closed two hours before John visited the site.
Take Away #2: John Had One Simple Question
You might think your site has all the answers. And it very well might. But even when that’s true, visitors can struggle to find what they need. Chatbot solves these page navigation problems by directly answering questions and removing the guesswork. It’s the path of least resistance.
Take Away #3: John Scheduled A Tour
After the chatbot answered the parking question, John immediately scheduled a tour. If this doesn’t prove the bot’s conversion abilities, we don’t know what will.
Take Away #4: John Rescheduled His Tour Date
This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you remember John is talking to a program. And programs tend to have bugs. The fact that chatbot recognized John had gone off script, and was able to correctly overwrite the previous appointment, speaks volumes about chatbot’s underlying A.I.
Hats off to our engineers for that one.
Take Away #5: Chatbot Gathered (And Forwarded) Contact Info
Chatbot didn’t stop at simply scheduling a tour. It also collected John’s contact info and forwarded it to the leasing office. This allows property managers to stay in touch with John in the event he’s a no-show.
Exhibit B: The Comeback Kid
Our second example comes from Trey. Trey’s original conversation with chatbot was cut short for reasons we can’t determine. However, he came back later in the day, interacted with chatbot a second time, and scheduled a tour.
Here’s a look at a few takeaways from Trey’s chatbot conversation.
Take Away #1: Trey Had A Lot Of Questions
Trey asks chatbot about pet policies. Then he asks about pricing. Then he asks for one bedroom floorplans. Then he asks for studio floorplans. The point is that Trey asks a lot of questions. And more importantly, chatbot provides answers to each and every one of those questions.
Take Away #2: Chatbot Recognized Trey The Second Time
We’re not sure why Trey left his original chatbot session. But given the fact that it began and 1 PM and lasted just over two minutes, it’s reasonable to assume he may have been apartment hunting on his lunch break. Whether that’s true or not, Trey came back to the community website at 6:30 PM. And chatbot – recognizing Trey’s digital signature – was able to pick up the conversation where it left off!
Take Away #3: Trey Scheduled A Tour
Like John from Exhibit A, Trey scheduled a tour via the Respage Chatbot. And also like John, Trey scheduled a tour after hours: The tour was scheduled at approximately 6:30 PM, roughly a half hour after the leasing office closed for the day.
Exhibit C: Man’s Best Friend
Our third example comes from Liz. Liz loves her dog and would never live in a community that wouldn’t welcome her best friend. So it goes without saying she had a few pet related questions for chatbot.
Here’s a few takeaways from Liz’s chatbot conversation.
Take Away #1: Liz Didn’t Know The Community Pet Policy
Liz didn’t ask any questions about floorplans or amenities. She only wanted to know if the community accepted dogs. Upon discovering that it did, she had one follow up question.
Take Away #2: Liz Needed Info On Breed Restrictions
It’s not uncommon for apartment communities to prohibit certain dog breeds from the property. Knowing this, Liz typed “breeds” into the chat window. To her delight, Chatbot informed her that all breeds were accepted at the community.
Take Away #3: Liz Scheduled A Tour
After learning that dogs – and, more importantly, all breeds of dogs – were welcome at the property, Liz quickly scheduled a tour.
The examples above give you a pretty good idea of Chatbot’s capabilities. But if you really want to see everything this technology can do, you’ll have to give it a personal test drive. We built this interactive chatbot demo page so you can do just that. Consider it a sandbox for multifamily marketing nerds.
Tip: Ask chatbot to tell you a joke!
Want A Multifamily Chatbot To Call Your Own?
Ready to streamline your leasing operations, convert more website visitors, and step into the future of multifamily marketing? Fill out the form below and we’ll assemble your chatbot today![/softease_text_block][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/12″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row el_id=”mf_forms”][vc_column][Formstack id=”2690415″ viewkey=”77tf7N5u9x”][/vc_column][/vc_row]