Organizations are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to assist in improved and efficient business decisions, and provide timely and relevant customer support. This new era of natural language technology has ushered in the use of ‘Chatbots’ or ‘Bots’ for businesses. Post the introduction of Facebook’s chatbots and their efficiency, they have been looked upon as a game changer in the real estate industry too. These ‘bots’ are used as customer service interface because they operate as user interactive displays conversing with clients in real-time.
While bots are popular and a valuable tool in the residential real estate sector, they are going on to become an equally important asset in the commercial real estate sector too.
Matt Sena from ‘Franchise Help’ reports that there were around 35,000 companies operating in the commercial brokerage and management field, generating $35 billion in revenue in 2015; and around 210,000 companies generating around $200 billion in the residential brokerage and management field in the US. He adds that about 30% of the industry’s total revenue comes from 50 largest companies.
The real estate industry is usually bombarded with queries, and on its feet all the time handling customer queries. When too many queries at one time for an agent became increasingly tedious, a purposeful change was required. Hence, rolled in the recognition and introduction of ‘bots’ as an ideal solution. Acquiring new leads and turning them into clients; informing sellers on a recurrent basis; attending to new visitors by promptly and confidently searching homes; attending to many customers simultaneously can be handled by Bots, the automated office personnel. Bots respond to inquiries arising out of mass mailing/internet ads or media ads too. While bots remain introductory tools to aid real estate transactions, they have definitely eased the work of an RE agent.
Apart from answering queries on a one-on-one basis, bots tend to gain customers’ trust, loyalty and build relationships leading to reduced errors thereby improving the overall customer experience. Not only do Bots save time, they seem human and are available for to answer queries over messaging applications 24/7.
Bots save costs too. While installing a phone system with many features may cost thousands of dollars, along with the need for a resource to man the desk; a bot on the other hand usually is the first point of contact on a website, to handle initial queries and assist with the requirement.
Basic queries are sorted before the agent takes the lead forward
It simply works like this: A user lands on a web page. An automatic chat box opens where a question is asked inviting interaction. Once the user replies, the bot furthers the conversation. During this entire interaction phase, the bot collects the user’s information, with the possibility of turning them into clients. Profile of the client is created, giving the real estate agent enough information about the client before even having met them. Also, from the customer’s point of view, the questions posed are immediately answered by this customer service device. Again, it saves the agent’s time as bots evaluate the potential of a client and the agent can concentrate on those leads that are serious.
Enhanced response rates
Besides searching and suggesting customers with property options in a specific area, bot can also aid customers with various other information such as other investment options, types of houses and their respective prices, further narrowing their search to ultimately finding their dream home or spaces for office, in case of corporates. Further, bots can also arrange for a property tour and get an agent to meet the client at a specified time. As bots are available 24/7, it eases the leg work for the agent.
Instantaneous customer services
Bots also tend to increase sales, as they are the first point of contact on websites, social profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, listing signs etc. leading to higher conversion ratios of as much as 300%. They are interesting to interact with as they greet every buyer or seller that visits the website and provide information required immediately. Bots aid in setting up alerts to keep one reminded of the brand; and take messages as per requirements.
For eg. In US, ‘Apartment Ocean’ has an advisor ‘Mary,’ available on Slack, for answering US renters’ queries. ‘Structurely’ has also unveiled ‘Holmes’ to work on prospective leads.
Quick, efficient and truthful delivery of information is the mainstay of the real estate industry. These bots are one of the best means to stay ahead of the competition. Companies are working towards creating their own, customized bots and bringing about an effective change in their business. It is time the real estate industry uses it to their maximum advantage.
Artificial Intelligence or AI help these bots to learn and adapt to newer circumstances. Although AI has effected industries world over, CRE industry has not been able to keep up with the modernism; chiefly due to different tools aiding with different aspects of CRE which is time consuming and complicated. The need of the hour is to consolidate and manage the three most important aspects dealt with by a CRE agent – time, efficiency and access to quick information.
The above article attributed to Vestian, has been carried in ‘The Hindu’