Beware the Lead Snare!

Snare: verb, To catch or involve by trickery or wile

“Come stay at our beautiful resort for the weekend free of charge! And all you have to do is spend 1 hour with our wonderful resort sales consultants.”

If you’ve ever had the truly mind-numbing experience of a time-share review, you understand the uncomfortable feeling that comes along with it. The feeling you got tricked into a sales pitch and the guilt that comes along with saying no to these folks who are putting you up free for the weekend. Nobody likes feeling trapped.

Well, that’s exactly what lead snares are. Consumers are lulled into what seems like a valuable interaction only to find out that they’ve been duped into becoming a lead for some business. And it’s unfortunately all too common for prospective renters in the Multifamily Industry.

Lead snares come in all sizes and shapes in our Industry. Though some may argue a lead is a lead, that is simply not true. Many prospective renters don’t even know they’ve become a lead, have little knowledge about a particular apartment community, nor any desire to live there because it doesn’t fit their income profile, desired location, or property type. So, becoming one of these leads is not only frustrating to the prospective renter, but to the property spending time on responding to these low-value, uninterested, uninformed renters.

Below are just a few lead snare examples that are most common in Multifamily:

ILS Proliferation Tactics – Some, actually most, Multifamily Internet Listing Sites (ILSs) in an effort to generate more leads for their advertising properties proliferate leads. Meaning they turn one lead into many. One example is when a renter fills out a personal profile or a web form for a specific property and the ILS says, “There are 5 more properties near this area that fit your profile. Would you like to contact them as well?”  Because the ILS makes it so easy to send these additional leads with the click of a button, the prospect will often do this. So that high-value lead that was going to go to one property of interest just became a low-value lead to 5 more properties, none of which the prospective renter likely knows much about.

Lead Generation Bots – As bots increasingly enter the Multifamily space, you can typically drop them into one of two buckets: Lead Gen Bots or Conversational Leasing Bots. What’s the difference?  Lead Gen Bots fall into three categories:

Call Center Bots – These bots are not designed to manage the bulk of renter inquiries within the bot experience, but rather pass the conversation off to a call center employee. This is a terrible user experience that drives a sub 30% CSAT score. Here’s an excellent article explaining why in great detail: link to article.

Social Media Bots – These bots can be deceptive in that a prospect has all their personal information shared with the property simply by clicking on the bot itself. How? If it’s powered on a platform like Facebook for example, Facebook has all your information which is passed along to the property simply by clicking on the bot. The prospect might not be at all interested in the property but will show up in a CRM just the same.

Capture Bots: These bots focus on one thing and one thing alone…get more leads!  That’s why they ask for a prospective renter’s personal information up front such as name, email, phone.  This is a bad user experience as consumers don’t want to provide personal information at the start. They want the information they want first, and then they might be willing to provide their contact information for additional purposes such as an appointment or a brochure.  Data shows that for every piece of contact information asked for upfront, the user defection rate grows from 10% upward to 75% depending on how much info is required.

So what’s a Conversational Leasing Bot? These bots are designed to simply answer questions and provide information up front. No contact info is required to use these bots. Only after a prospective renter wants an action such as an appointment, a brochure emailed to them, etc., does the bot ask for contact information. And if the prospect has a question the bot can’t answer, it’s not hot-transferred to a human which sounds nice, but actually provides a poor overall experience. The information is packaged up and in seconds sent to the property for an asynchronous response.

Survey Widgets – These are buttons and widgets that sit on a property website that ask a series of questions in an effort to get more leads. Some of these Survey Widgets will entice people to use their solution by offering to put the user in a drawing for free rent. This tactic can certainly generate more interaction and inquiries, but not leads. There is very little value in these survey widgets once the math is done. Below is a typical product cycle when implementing these widgets:

Month 1 – Widget launched. Property sees significant uptick in “lead” volume.
Month 2 – Higher volume of “leads” remain, yet appointments and leases have not markedly increased.
Month 3 – Lead volume stays high, however, conversion of leads to appointments and leases dramatically decreased. Property is doing more work responding to leads, but not seeing a corresponding increase.
Month 4 – Did deep dive into data. Discovered many of the “leads” were actually current residents who entered the drawing to win a free month’s rent. Still no increase in overall appointments and leases.
Month 5 – Dropped survey widget from the site. Leads normalized to past volume. Lead to appointment and lead to lease conversion ratios improved. Property spending less time working low-value leads.

Bottom line: Today’s technology and marketing solutions should decrease cost and/or time spent driving and managing renter leads. Anything else is a lead snare sending low-value leads making your people work twice as hard for half the results. Sometimes more isn’t more, so beware the lead snare

What Is Robotic Process Automation?

Through the use of specialized software, you can eliminate repetitive tasks from your team’s workload.

As technology continues to advance, humankind is finding more efficient ways to use emerging technology to simplify and eliminate repetitive tasks. One such advancement is the ominously named robotic process automation, which leverages software to make repetitive tasks a thing of the past. While RPA is more common in the enterprise realm, small businesses can also utilize this emergent tech.

What is robotic process automation?

Though its name might evoke images of an uprising of metal and lasers, robotic process automation is anything but that. At its core, RPA is a piece of “robot” software that lets users reduce the number of repetitive tasks they need to do on a computer by mimicking those actions.

From timecard management to data entry, RPA tools eliminate the need for employees to spend their time on computer-based, routine tasks. Instead, employees can focus their energies where they’re actively needed, increasing overall productivity.

Because of its relatively new status on the automation front and increased hype surrounding the technology, researchers at Forrester estimated that the RPA market would balloon from $250 million in 2016 to $2.9 billion in 2021.

How does robotic process automation work?

Since RPA is not powered by artificial intelligence, it needs some level of human interaction to work. It’s after that initial setup that the magic happens.

To get RPA working, a person must first teach it the actions that will be automated on the computer or virtual machine. Whenever an application is opened, a mouse click is initiated, a new task is started, or some other action is taken in an application, an RPA can be taught to do those same actions as a set of programmable rules and instructions. After each step is mapped out, the program can run those manual tasks back, recreating each action with incredible speed and precision.

While RPA by itself is not considered AI, the two can work in tandem to pick up how an employee completes certain tasks. Through the inclusion of intelligent bots, RPA software can actively follow a person’s actions on a computer. Once enough data is collected, the bot and the RPA it’s attached to can begin handling whatever processes it needs to do by itself.

In both instances, RPA needs some form of data input to mimic. Once it gets that data, however, it’s off to the races with those tasks, freeing up precious resources to be allocated elsewhere within your company. Both explanations are at the very basic level of how RPA works, since this kind of software can handle as many as simple or complex processes as you need it to, based on the actions you want to automate.

What can RPA automate?

It doesn’t necessarily matter how big or small your business is – if there’s any computer-based drudge work you want to eliminate for yourself or your employees, RPA technology can handle it. General knowledge points to the idea that RPA is best for tasks that rely on repetitive actions. Tasks like data entry and returns processing are ideal fits for RPAs.

While speaking with The Enterprisers ProjectOlive chief product officer David Landreman listed four basic criteria for whether an RPA is the right tool for a specific repetitive task:

  • Is the process rule-based?
  • Can the process be repeated at regular intervals, or does it have an easily defined trigger?
  • Does the process have expected inputs and outputs?
  • Does the task have sufficient volume?

According to Guy Nadivi, director of business development at Ayehu, RPA is usually used for specific business functions like customer service, accounting and human resources.

The most common uses include tasks that “tend to involve a worker moving information from one system to another,” Nadivi told business.com. “A typical example might be taking regular hours, overtime hours, [and] sick time from a timecard, consolidating them for a given individual, then inputting those numbers into a payroll system. Some have argued that a more accurate term for this category of software might be ‘clerical process automation.'”

No matter what the technology is used for, the ever-changing nature of technology and efficiency-minded software means RPA could eventually handle more complex tasks. Shay Antebi, chief technology officer of Kryon Systems, believes that to be the case because it’s “still a young technology.”

“I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what RPA can do,” he said. “RPA is the perfect technology for offloading time-intensive, repetitive processes that can drag down productivity or create a sense of boredom for human workers.”

What are the benefits of robotic process automation?

Along with the reduction in repetitive tasks and the ability to free up employees to be productive in other areas of your business, RPA has some other inherent benefits that any business would find valuable. Sagi Eliyahu, co-founder and CEO of Tonkean, said using more adaptive process automation helped his client, Shopping Angels, address the biggest operational issue in its organization.

“Instead of asking state coordinators to spend their time manually assessing which volunteers were in the closest proximity to each other and contacting them one by one, they automated that process, giving state coordinators more time to fix issues and interact directly with shoppers in need,” Eliyahu said. “That’s a huge deal for a nonprofit that wants to put all their energy into what really matters: helping people in need.”

Here are some other examples of how a good RPA can help businesses of all sizes.

Reduced costs

Automation in its many forms is well known for its ability to cut operating costs as a sort of digital workforce. If you no longer need an employee to handle a certain task because of automation, you are spending less money on that task. Similarly, RPA can cut costs that can be due to human error, since the software will handle its functions accurately as long as it was taught correctly.

More engaged employees

Doing repetitive tasks for hours on end can be a mentally and emotionally draining experience. Implementing an RPA robot to handle boring tasks frees up employees to work on more engaging activities that increase their attentiveness, boost morale and, in the case of businesses that regularly deal with the public, provide a better overall customer experience.

Easy, flexible implementation

Since RPA mimics a person’s actions when completing tasks, programming it is relatively easy. No coding knowledge is necessary, and it can easily transfer from one task to another. As businesses grow, RPA can scale with them to meet their changing needs.

Interoperability with legacy systems

Since RPA mimics a person’s actions on a computer, it does not replace any existing software to function. Operating as a virtual employee, a well-trained RPA can leverage all existing technology on your company’s computers to complete tasks.

What are some robotic process automation tools?

As the fastest-growing area of enterprise software on the market, RPA has a wide range of offerings available on the internet. If you believe your small business could benefit from a reduction in repetitive tasks so you can focus on more important matters, you may want to check out the following tools that some business owners we spoke with have used.

Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere touts its secure platform and AI-augmented functionality that carries out various tasks in compliance with government regulations across the globe. As a more enterprise-focused service, Automation Anywhere’s pricing starts at $750 per month for the Cloud Starter Pack, which it claims is for small businesses or teams.

Blue Prism

Based in the U.K., Blue Prism is another enterprise-level RPA provider. It currently serves more than 1,800 clients (including Fortune 500 brands) around the globe, claiming a 90% “average customer satisfaction rate” and a 98% customer retention rate. Pricing is not available on its website, though Blue Prism does offer a free 30-day trial.

Zapier

Like the other vendors, Zapier provides software that can automate repetitive tasks. Its pricing is why Zapier might be more small business friendly than the other two vendors. Packages start at 750 tasks per month for $19.99 per month when billed annually or $24.99 when billed on a month-to-month basis. Costs go as high as $3,599 per month annually or $4,498.75 on a monthly basis for 2 million tasks per month. For users who don’t need to automate that many functions, Zapier offers a free version that handles 100 tasks per month.

BetterBot just got a whole lot better!

In the early 90s Billy Crystal starred in a movie called City Slickers.  There was a poignant scene where actor Jack Palance explains the secret to life to Billy’s character Mitch.  “You know what the secret to life is? One thing. Just one thing. Once you figure it out, you stick to that.”

At BetterBot we take that sentiment to heart and focus on just one thing: Bot technology.  It’s all we focus on so we can stay years ahead of any other solution in the Multifamily Marketplace.  Every other company in our Industry offering a bot solution is tied to a primary or legacy product.  Their solution to bot technology is a secondary thought which shows both in the stability of their platform and the results it generates vs. BetterBot.

And now, BetterBot just took a major leap forward by completing a 6-month platform refactor. BetterBot’s new and improved enterprise-grade platform now includes the most advanced, newest and robust bot, AI, and automation technology available today.  So what’s the difference?  BetterBot today has:

  • True enterprise grade architecture which allows for any kind of standardized integration so management companies can build bots in seconds, and update information in real-time.
  • A backend that gives complete control to clients who want to closely customize and manage their brand, content and get up-to-the-minute reporting.
  • The fastest responding bot, even during peak hours, with thousands of concurrent renter conversations.
  • A platform that allows for sub-vertical user pathways such as student housing, affordable housing, single-unit rentals, and more.
  • Easier deployment to any channel in the digital marketplace such as Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, Craigslist, etc.
  • Intelligent Appointment Types that allows for In-Person, Self-Guided, Live-Video and/or Phone appointments with dynamic Covid-19 protocols built in.
  • The ability to host virtually any kind of virtual/3D/video tours in the actual bot experience. No other bot does this!
  • Deeper integrations with property management software solutions, CRMs and calendars.

And BetterBot continues to perfect its Guided Conversation methodology that outperforms clunky, slow, and easily-confused NLP (Natural Language Processing) bot competitors. BetterBot averages 3-5x the conversation, lead and appointment generating capability of any other bot in Multifamily.  

Let BetterBot go head-to-head with whatever solution you use or are considering. We’re confident you’ll come to the same conclusion that more than 100 Multifamily property management companies have: BetterBot is truly a better bot.