The Rise of the Chatbot
Let’s face it. It’s a matter of when and not if chatbots become part of the everyday backdrop in the apartment world. But if the early advent of chatbots has taught us anything, it’s that the tech has to be consistent for it to be effective.
Using the chatbots to answer common questions for prospects is efficient and a timesaver. According to HubSpot, 47 percent of consumers are open to buying items through a chatbot, and the percentage continues to rise. But if the chatbot gets stuck in a loop when it doesn’t understand a question or can’t provide specific answers, it’s not going to result in many leases.
Sure, a chatbot doesn’t have to be able to provide detailed life advice or discuss the American League MVP race in depth to be effective. An automated response with a generic message is okay, as long as it’s accurate. Here’s a look at what we’ve learned so far about chatbots and what’s needed for them to have valuable interactions with prospects.
Prospects don’t mind a computer generated response as long as the human element is executed well. If the auto message says someone will call you back tomorrow, and no one does, it’s a bad experience. This underscores the need for onsite teams to make sure to follow through with any information relayed by a chatbot. The software must be able to updated with real time pricing and availability, as well, so it’s not relaying dated rental rates or providing false hopes that certain types of homes are available when they aren’t.
Chatbots should nurture the prospective renter. If a prospect only searches for two-bedroom floor plans on your website and the auto chat that says “how can I help you?” we create a tedious process because the prospect has to retell the chatbot about their interest in a two-bedroom home. If the chatbot says: “We have two-bedroom homes available for move in starting on this date. Can I help you schedule a tour?” Now, that’s a better experience.
Chatbots can’t replace people and never will. But they can save your team’s time by eliminating time intensive communications. Onsite teams shouldn’t expect the chatbot to sign leases by itself and move new residents into the building without ever having seen the office team. Chatbots genuinely help in the form of assist value, by taking care of the early communication measures and deliver the prospect to the team when a human element is needed. They are essentially designed to tee up the team for success.
Chatbots are still in their beginning stages and have their share of challenges. But when implemented properly at an apartment community, they can greatly assist onsite teams by providing key information to prospects and by freeing up time for associates to concentrate on higher-level tasks.