Ask any property owner to brainstorm what skills and traits their ideal apartment leasing agent would have, and they’d most likely name a few key attributes: professional, knowledgeable, affordable, able to work long hours, a quick learner, bilingual, friendly and maybe even a little charismatic.
Humans tend to be fascinated — and maybe a bit intimidated — by machines that can mimic us. But the truth is that they’re designed to make our lives easier. They can help us apply to college, open a bank account, choose the perfect pair of shoes or find a new apartment.
Tech research firm Gartner projects that artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots will manage more than 85% of customer service interactions by 2020. This increase in AI-fueled chatbots and virtual assistants represents a significant shift in how humans interact with technology.
These bots can live on company websites or, as we’re seeing more and more, within messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik.
What’s the reason for the skyrocketing interest in chatbots? The use of messaging apps has now surpassed the use of social networks worldwide, according to a 2016 report by Business Insider. And the younger set — Generation Z, which consists of those born in 1995 or later — is fueling this change.
Pair that with the fact that 80% of Americans between 18 and 34 have no intention of buying a home anytime soon, according to a Rent.com study, and it means that chatbots and the multifamily industry go hand-in-hand.
A multifamily chatbot could be a key to meeting these prospective renters where they are by providing the technology they’ve already integrated into their lives.
So, as more and more industries embrace chatbots, an expectation is created. If a consumer interacts with chatbots across industries like airlines, online retailers and car dealerships, communicating with an apartment chatbot would be a natural, normal part of everyday life.
Let’s take a look at some of the attributes that a virtual leasing agent could bring to the table.
- Professional and friendly. The chatbots of today use natural language processing to understand human language, allowing them to carry on helpful chat conversations while also building language skills as time goes on.
- Knowledgeable and learns quickly. Chatbots are programmed with information about their property, and AI helps it learn as it goes. This allows it to build its knowledge base, making it capable of answering a broader range of questions over time.
- Works tirelessly. Unlike human leasing agents, an apartment chatbot can work 24/7. An analysis of Google trends shows that most searches for “apartments for rent” happen outside the normal business hours when human leasing agents aren’t around.
- Affordable. Salaries and benefits account for a huge chunk of any budget, but in general, an apartment chatbot doesn’t require much, usually a small monthly fee. This is a minor cost when considering the potential number of prospects it could bring in.
- Bilingual. About 13 percent of U.S. residents speak Spanish at home, making it a no-brainer for your ideal apartment chatbot to be Spanish-speaking, too.
- Charismatic. Chatbot technology allows for a great deal of personality customization, so the chatbot can play it straight, or it can throw in a bit of humor, whatever works for your business.
- Team player. After unleashing the bot, you can gain some insight into how things are going by opting for a service that provides a transcript of all bot-prospect conversations. This also allows human leasing agents to follow up and focus their sales outreach efforts on users who’ve shown an interest in their rental community.
- Asks for help. Chatbots work best if a human is available to step in when needed. Ideally, prospects should have the option of talking to a human if they have more complex questions that the chatbot isn’t able to answer to their satisfaction.
The Respage Chatbot has all of these qualities and more. And, it can start right away — the setup and installation is designed to be quick and user-friendly. If you’re interested in seeing our chatbot in action, check out our sandbox to interact with one right now. Learn more about it here.