Visit any apartment community’s website today, and you can expect to see a chat box pop up in the corner. It’s no wonder why they’re increasingly popular: Thanks to their 24/7 availability and instant replies, chatbots can boost leads by up to 38%!
If you currently have a chatbot and are already capturing leads as a result, is it worth upgrading to an AI leasing assistant? What’s the difference, anyway?
Well, if chatbots increase leads by up to 38%, imagine what an AI leasing assistant—which does more than just respond to inquiries—can do for your multifamily business.
First, let’s find the difference between a chatbot and an AI leasing assistant, and which one is best for your apartment community.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot can be integrated directly into your website and instantly respond to user inquiries 24/7. What a lot of multifamily marketers don’t realize, though, is that not all chatbots are created equal.
There are essentially two kinds of chatbots you can use for your website: natural language processing (NLP) or rule-based (also known as “keyword-based,” “decision tree,” or “guided conversation”). If you want to optimize for conversions, you definitely want the more advanced NLP-based chatbots.
Rule-based or decision-tree chatbots rely on humans to pre-program them with a set of rules or keywords to monitor for. When the chatbot spots a rule or keyword in an inquiry, a pre-programmed response is triggered.
This is fine—as long as the prospect sticks to the script.
And as we know, in everyday leasing conversations, prospects can say some wild things. They might use a slang word, mistype something, or make a grammatical mistake. And when they do that, rule-based chatbots don’t know how to react. That’s when you get the “robotic” feeling that prospects hate—which causes them to get frustrated and leave your site.
NLP chatbots use the power of AI and natural language processing to read inputs and respond in a human-like way. They don’t get easily thrown off by things like slang or typos because they’re able to understand the context. Further, like true artificial intelligence, NLP chatbots are “smart,” meaning they learn from the past and get better the more you use them.
What to look for in a multifamily chatbot
When evaluating chatbot solutions for your apartment community, be sure to ask the following questions:
Does it use NLP? Not every chatbot uses natural language processing. If it’s a rule-based chatbot, it will sound stiff and robotic and could affect the user experience.
What data set was it trained on? AI chatbots are trained on a data set. This means they learn from vast amounts of emails, text inputs or other data. This matters immensely because it doesn’t help you if the chatbot wasn’t trained on relevant data. For example, chatbots that are using open-source data sets like the ChatGPT API, may not have access to data specific to the multifamily industry and your prospects. In contrast, some industry-specific AI chatbots have been trained using millions of conversations that are specific to leasing.
Is there a demo I can test? Any good software company will offer you a demo so you can test the chatbot and see how it responds in different situations.
Does it integrate with my property management software (PMS)? Chatbots that aren’t built specifically for multifamily may not integrate with your PMS, so be sure to check.
For more questions to ask your software provider this budget season, check out this blog.
What is an AI leasing assistant?
An AI leasing assistant is a chatbot with a few more bells and whistles designed to streamline workflows and processes with automation.
Natural language processing helps the AI leasing assistant communicate like a human, and artificial intelligence powers the automation, like tour scheduling, followup, and nurturing. These automations can help properties manage tour calendars, qualify more leads, and sign leases faster.
AI leasing assistants also have the ability to live on a number of additional channels, as opposed to a traditional web chatbot. ResMate, for example, is an AI leasing assistant that can communicate with prospects on seven different channels, including web chat, phone, text, email, ILS, Google Business Profile chat, and Facebook Messenger.
What to look for in a multifamily AI leasing assistant
When considering an AI leasing assistant, it’s important to first establish what your goals are for implementing the technology. If you simply want an autoresponder, you may want to consider a chatbot or a call center. But if you’re looking to sign more leases faster, you want the right AI leasing assistant on your team.
Here’s how you can distinguish between the good bots from the have-nots.
What communication channels does it integrate with? Your AI leasing assistant should be able to respond to prospects on at least five basic channels: web chat, email, text, phone, and ILS. Additionally, connections to Google Business Profile chat and Facebook Messenger are helpful.
Can you program custom responses? Having the ability to program custom responses to specific questions can help your AI leasing assistant feel more friendly and human-like. Custom responses can include anything that is unique to your community, like a specific amenity, pet policy, income requirements, and more. Additionally, you should be able to customize the look of your website chatbot to match your community colors and branding to ensure a seamless user experience.
Can you customize your nurturing emails? Stand out in your prospect inbox with custom nurturing emails that gently nudge prospects to schedule a tour or submit an application. With customizations, nurturing emails can be more personalized to your community, location, and the prospect’s interests.
Does it integrate with my PMS and CRM? Being able to integrate into your property management system is vital. You may also want to inquire if your AI leasing assistant has its own built-in CRM to manage prospect data and analytics. Combining the data and automation from AI leasing assistants with the reporting capabilities of a CRM can be a powerful tool for leasing teams. And with the right data set, can help property managers predict the likelihood of a resident renewing their lease with 78% accuracy.
Are there automated cross-sell and waitlist options? Letting your AI leasing assistant handle your property waitlist or cross-selling sister properties is a huge time-saver when you have no availability. And as soon as something becomes available your AI leasing assistant will automatically contact prospects on the waitlist.
Can it communicate with Spanish speakers? More than 13% of US households speak Spanish as their primary language. So having an AI leasing assistant that can communicate in both English and Spanish is vital. A bilingual AI leasing assistant can enhance the user experience by offering multilingual support.
AI leasing assistant vs. chatbot. Which should you choose?
Deciding between an AI leasing assistant and a chatbot is highly dependent on the team you have in place, and which technology would benefit your property the most.
While an ordinary chatbot is a great place to start, multifamily properties looking to sign more leases need to uplevel to an AI leasing assistant that offers nurturing capabilities. Remember, AI leasing assistants come with an NLP-based chatbot, but it goes above and beyond that.
You should consider upgrading to an AI leasing assistant if:
- You’re short-staffed, or your existing team members are struggling to keep up with generating leads and nurturing prospects.
- You want to sign more leases.
- You want to get prospects to tour more quickly (ResMate users see up to a 150% reduction in time-to-tour).
- You already have a chatbot but want to optimize for more leases signed.
For more help deciding, use this checklist to see if you should be getting more out of your chatbot or AI leasing assistant.