multifamily chatbot

How to Improve Your Multifamily Customer Experience

The multifamily space is rapidly changing, and that means people’s expectations of what it means to have a great customer experience is changing as well. Prospective renters are looking for a seamless and personalized experience that mirrors what they’re used to in other industries. Historically, the real estate space in general has been slow to adapt and evolve to meet these changes, but in part thanks to the pandemic, property management teams are leaning into new tech and solutions to deliver a better multifamily customer experience. 

To help you and your teams, we’ll be sharing the specifics on how to craft a more compelling experience for both your current and prospective renters. But first, let’s dive into more detail on how consumer behavior is transforming the multifamily space. 

How the multifamily customer experience is changing

People are increasingly turning to digital spaces and platforms to find their next home. And with the pandemic making in-person appointments and tours tenuous at best, more interactions between property teams and consumers are happening online than ever before. No longer is it the norm for people to call or visit a property in person; instead, people want to go through the entire process, from discovery to lease, online. 

When it comes to the needs of current renters, the pandemic and events of 2020 have also changed expectations. People are spending more time at home than ever before, making luxury amenities, responsive customer service, and maintenance more important. What’s more, issues of diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of peoples’ minds, making it critical for property management teams to address these matters with empathy and action. 

What you can do to improve the experience

Digitize the renter experience

From finalizing leases to requesting maintenance, there are so many multifamily processes that can be digitized today. As we discussed earlier, consumers are used to seamless digital experiences when buying clothes or ordering takeout, and expect the same level of ease and accessibility from their residence. Make a checklist of the most common processes that renters and perspectives go through (think renter applications, maintenance requests, etc) and digitize those processes on your website. 

Prioritize amenities 

With more people spending their days at home, prospective renters are looking for properties that offer spacious units, along with accessible and luxurious amenities. By tailoring your amenities to meet today’s changing standards, you can help ensure your property stands out. Amenities people are looking for today include high-speed wifi and coworking spaces, up-to-date fitness facilities, green space, and hand sanitizing stations. 

Utilize a chatbot

At BetterBot, we know just how impactful a chatbot can be on the customer experience. Not only do chatbots create a more personalized user experience, they also make things like taking virtual tours and getting property questions answered easier than ever. Plus, chatbots are available 24/7, 365 – meaning they’ll be available and ready to help even when your live customer service reps aren’t. 

The great news is, it’s easier than ever to find a powerful chatbot that can take your leasing process to the next level. 

Adopt a people-centric approach

It sounds simple, but creating a truly people-centric strategy is probably the most important thing you can do to elevate your multifamily customer experience. Residents want to feel like property staff members care about them and their experience. Cultivating and maintaining great relationships should be a priority. 

And when it comes to prospective renters, they want to know everything they can about your property before they make a commitment. This is your opportunity to get to know everything about them. Try adding contextualized questions like, “What brings you to our neighborhood?” to information request forms to get more insights. 

Find ways to measure satisfaction

You can implement all of the customer experience initiatives you want, but at the end of the day, if you don’t measure and track your progress, you’ll never know if you’re successful. A simple way to start tracking customer experience is by adding customer satisfaction surveys at key points along your leasing (and exit) process. By adding these surveys, you’ll be able to gain key insights into what drew people to your property, and what potentially turned them off. 

By leveraging tech solutions and adopting a people-centered strategy, you’ll be able to deliver the best multifamily customer experience possible. And don’t just stop at customer-experience – learn how the pandemic and changing renter expectations are transforming the multifamily industry at large on our blog

Battle of the Bots (UNCUT)

We’ve shared the short version of Battle of the Bots but, what about what you haven’t seen? We’re sharing the uncut version where you can get some more in-depth information about several bots in the Multifamily industry, including ACE by LeaseHawkAnyone Home Inc, ChatIQ by RENTCafé, Lisa by AppFolio, Inc.MeetEliseRespage, and Diffe. Rent AI. Please take a look at how we stack up next to the competition.

Industry Trends

What is the most interesting trend you’ve seen in renter behavior recently and over the past 12 months?

“Our bot is on 24/7. Four years ago, we had a thesis that the bot would work after hours, and after 4,000,000 conversations in 2020, 58% of them were after hours. So, the thesis held true. So when people are home and not necessarily available at the property, the bots are actually working on your behalf. “

Onboarding Process

What is the onboarding process, and what is the time frame?

“30 seconds, 15 minutes, and 2 days. 30 seconds to order the bot, 15 minutes to do a BetterBot Concierge intake meeting where we understand how you want the bot configured. We build the bot in 2 days. It comes reconfigured. Works with any integration you want. We can build hundreds of bots at a time.”

We had so much fun participating in this competition. After watching the full uncut version, who do you think wins?

Battle of the Bots - Check it out!

Battle of the Bots

We are so excited that we had the opportunity to participate in Battle of the Bots! Here, we take some time to dissect a number of bots in the Multifamily industry including ACE by LeaseHawkAnyone Home Inc, ChatIQ by RENTCafé, Lisa by AppFolio, Inc.MeetEliseRespage, and Diffe.rent AI. Take a look at how we stack up next to the competition.

A majority of our competitors shared the type of bot technology their companies used was natural language processing. BetterBot had a different answer to share.

We are currently creating a 4D view of effectiveness relative to marketing. Find out how in this clip! We are so grateful we had the opportunity to participate in Battle of the Bots. Tell us who you think won the battle on LinkedIn!

apartment tour scheduling

5 Multifamily Metrics Your Property Management Team Should Focus On

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it’s finally pushed the real estate space to adopt some much needed technology. For the multifamily industry in particular, this new technology has allowed property management teams to get a hold of invaluable data that they otherwise wouldn’t have. With all this new data though, it can be difficult to stay organized and focused. Today, we’ll be going over some of the most important multifamily metrics and KPIs to keep a watch on. No matter the amount of data you might be swimming in, these are the metrics to focus on first.  

Multifamily metrics to prioritize 

While there are many valuable multifamily KPIs that management teams should be familiar with, these 5 are ultimately some of the most important for managing growth and property resiliency. 

1. Occupancy and vacancy rates

At any point in time, it’s important to know your current occupancy and vacancy rates. This allows you to compare your rates against other competing units, along with the market average (around 95 – 96%). For example, if your properties are hovering around 90% and nearby units are at that market average, you know you need to invest in more marketing.

At the same time, if you’re doing better than your competitors, you can always leverage that as a selling point for prospective renters. 

2. Lead-to-lease conversion performance

Another important multifamily metric to zero-in on is lead-to-lease conversion timing. The leasing process is a high-touch sales cycle, and one that can vary greatly in timing across different regions and communities. When you make a point to understand the specific performance and timing of each of your units, you can then adjust and optimize your marketing strategy to shorten that cycle. 

3. Days to lease

The longer a unit stays empty, the more revenue you lose. Knowing your average days to lease can help you identify gaps in your marketing and help identify specific units that are harder to fill. 

Additionally, if you find yourself experiencing a longer days-to-lease cycle, it may be an indication of outside conditions such as a declining market or changing renter expectations. 

4. Average renter lifetime value

Understanding the average value each renter will bring to your property is hugely valuable, especially when it comes to planning the success of your property in the long-term. If you see that you’re not meeting your goal, you can always adjust lease values and work to reduce renter churn. 

5. Revenue growth 

Perhaps one of the most important multifamily KPIs, broadly speaking, is overall revenue growth. If you don’t know this metric, how will you be able to tell how well your business is performing year over year? As this is such an important and broad metric, you can use the other KPIs we mentioned to gain a better understanding of your overall growth.

Creating a practical system for organizing and analyzing your data is one of the best ways to ensure all that data is being put to good use. Instead of being overwhelmed, find yourself empowered to make data-driven decisions that will have a measurable impact on your properties. 

Explore more trends currently shaping the multifamily industry on our blog. 

chatbot for apartment communities

3 Keys to Affordable Housing Marketing & How BetterBot Can Help

Over the past decade or so, the internet has become a powerful place for multifamily property management teams to market their communities. Even marketers with tight budgets have been able to take advantage of the digital marketplace. Plus, it’s easier than ever to create a powerful marketing strategy without blowing through your budget. These days, information and resources can be distributed automatically, analytics can be measured through free or inexpensive tools, and paid ads can be managed digitally with a minimal budget. All this to say, there’s no better time than now to leverage your digital presence to promote your affordable housing community. And to help you get started, we’re explaining 3 of the most important tactics you should use in your affordable housing marketing strategy. 

Why it’s important to be online

In 2021, 89% of Americans use the internet, and by 2025, 73% of global internet users will have access to a smartphone. While these numbers are impressive, they’re even more so when you break it down by age. For example, in the 18-29 age range, 98% of people use the internet, with average usage around 22.5 hours each week. 

What should be even more impressive for affordable housing marketers is the fact that, these days, upwards of 90% of housing searches begin online. If you aren’t making the most of your affordable housing community’s digital presence, you’re missing out on a lot of prospective renters. 

Affordable housing marketing with BetterBot

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to grow your presence online and win over new renters. And, with BetterBot’s tools and resources, you’ll have a head start. 

So, let’s dive into how to level-up your affordable property marketing strategy. 

1. Market where your prospects are 

Like we mentioned earlier, over 90% of housing searches start online. People expect to find quality information and resources on their local affordable housing communities online. That means if you already have a strong digital presence, you’re more likely to look reputable and professional. At BetterBot, we know just how important it is to not only have a great website, but an intentional digital presence across a variety of platforms. We offer an interactive landing page that helps funnel prospects who found your community on other sites like Google and Facebook back to your site.

2. Clear and specific dialogue

Typically, affordable housing communities have certain specifications and limitations for perspectives. This is where chatbots can really come in handy. Through our chatbot solution, we’re able to offer specific dialogue that provides clear criteria and protocol to let prospects know if they qualify to live in your community. By letting a chatbot handle these questions and requests, your leasing team can save valuable time and can focus on converting the most-qualified prospects. 

3. Streamlined leasing process

The final step for any community seeking to maintain healthy occupancy rates is lease execution. In order to achieve a highly-leased community, your leads must be captured, organized, and responded to in a timely and professional manner. Additionally, affordable housing communities need to maintain a wait list and comply with income restrictions.

Throughout the application and leasing process, BetterBot makes it easy to deliver a personalized and memorable user experience. And ultimately, it’s often a great user experience that translates to more leads converted. 
Want more multifamily marketing tips? We’ve got you covered on the BetterBot blog.

best real estate chatbots

Introducing the Affordable Bot

At BetterBot, we are continuing to expand our products to serve our customer’s needs better. That is why we are excited to announce the newest “bot venture” from BetterBot is geared towards Affordable/Section-8 communities. Like many communities, we understand that lead volume is a big pain point for the leasing staff, and managing those leads often demands more time than your teams have in a given day. That is where BetterBot comes into play. Ensuring your prospects have all the necessary information upfront can reduce total traffic from reaching out with repetitive questions. Our affordable bot does several things to make life easier on your teams. Here are some of the perks it offers!

Affordable Specific Dialogue 

With our affordable bot, you’re able to use specific dialogue catered to affordable housing. For instance, you can pre-qualify your prospects by entering into their income information and how many residents will be living in the unit. Helping your prospects know if they even can qualify for living at your property. 

Waitlist Management

Keep your waitlist organized with the affordable bot. Our dashboard allows you to keep track of your waitlist so that any time you have a vacancy, you can easily find your next renter: no more physical waitlists, chicken scratch on a notepad, or non-centralized documents. Now your whole team can access the waitlist with the touch of a button. 

Real-Time Management

With the BetterBot dashboard, you’ll be able to utilize our bot configuration and customization so that you can manage your bots in real-time. Any time you have an update for your bot, you can make it on your schedule, right in our dashboard. You can also send schedule requests to your qualified prospects at your convenience. You can also share kick-off documents and information before or after a tour. 

Affordable Specific Reporting 

Our affordable specific reporting allows your teams to evaluate the top-of-funnel leasing performance. It’s crucial that even on an affordable property, your teams are still selling your property experience. Find out what’s working and what could use some improvement with our reporting. You can see how much of your traffic is qualified and take the best course of action. 

If you have any affordable communities that you oversee, now is the time to utilize the BetterBot affordable bot solution. Contact us to schedule a call with our sales team today, and we’ll get you started with the most effortless onboarding process of your life (trust us, it’s seamless). You can also test out our affordable bot HERE

multifamily online tour schedule

Common Mistakes When Adding a Chatbot to Your Property Website

If you’re in the multifamily business, chances are you’ve heard a lot about bot technology in the past few years. From improving lead generation to reducing the burden on busy property management teams, chatbots have more than proven their worth in this space. So, if you’re looking to get into conversational leasing – great! We can help you get started. But what we’re going to focus on today is what not to do when it comes to adding a multifamily chatbot to your property website. 

The benefits of conversational leasing

Investing in bot technology can be a huge step forward for your business. On average, chatbots save property management teams upward of 80 hours per month. What’s more, customer satisfaction scores when using chatbots are up to 90%, while live chat and other methods only garner around 35%. 

But just because you have a chatbot doesn’t mean your work is done. 

Common mistakes when adding a multifamily chatbot to your site

Here are some of the top pitfalls we see property management teams fall into when they build their first multifamily chatbot. 

Choosing the wrong type of bot

From AI-based natural language processing bots to voice-guided bots, there are several different types of chatbot tech available for you to use. And while it can be tempting to throw your money at an “advanced” AI offering, the truth is, those bots just don’t work as well as rules-based, or guided-conversation bots. At BetterBot, this is the type of bot we use to help property managers turn prospects into renters.  

Cluttering your site with too many widgets

When a prospective renter visits your site, you don’t want to overwhelm them. A busy site filled with CTAs doesn’t help drive your customer to where they want to go. At worst, it can cause them to feel overwhelmed, and look elsewhere. A great chatbot however, can host all of those wonderful widgets – without clogging up your front page. 

Keeping your content hostage

Beware the lead snare. Instead of making prospects fill out contact forms before they can access content, allow them access from the get-go. Don’t be a gatekeeper – and allow your bot to collect information in a natural, conversational way. We don’t call it ‘conversational leasing’ for nothing! 

Not including virtual tours or videos

In today’s digital-first environment, people want to check out every aspect of your property before taking the time to visit in person. Adding virtual tours and videos of your units to your multifamily chatbot can help build a more immersive experience, and help people get an accurate picture of life at your property. 

Not including a call to action

Chatbots are not only there on your property website to give users information, they’re also there to act as lead generators. Include options to schedule appointments, tours, and other valuable CTAs that can help convert leads. 

Stopping at your website

One of the great things about chatbots is that they don’t have to be relegated to your website only. Once you’ve built a bot, you can deploy it throughout the internet, in places like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Google My Business, and all conversations had by those bots can drive traffic back to your site! 

It’s A Bot Time

Our COO & Co-Founder, Robert Turnbull, had the opportunity to be a guest on the Apartments On The Go Podcast. On this episode you’ll hear discussion about how it is we are building the best conversational leasing bot in the real estate rental market. To catch the full episode, CLICK HERE!

Apartments On The Go

Episode 30: It’s a Bot Time – Robert Turnbull 

You’ve joined the Apartments On The Go podcast, with your hosts, Courtney Smith and Matt Ruedlinger. We’ve got expert advice from the industry’s biggest stars, with insights into trends, best practices, and manageable actions you can use for your careers today. This is the Apartments On The Go podcast.

CS: Welcome to the show! How’s it going, Matt?

MR: It’s going great – excited today, I love this topic, so. 

CS: I know, I’ve been really, really jazzed about this one. So I will just kick it off, and introduce Robert Turnbull. Robert has been creating and starting businesses for the last 25 years. And 21 of those years have been in multifamily. I just learned that you started ApartmentGuide.com in 1999 and then Rentals.com right after, I mean the list goes on and on. And he made a comment that I just love, I think we’ve heard this time and time again: “Once you’re in multifamily, you can check in but you can never leave”. I love that! But today we’re going to talk about BetterBot, which is a company that Robert started. They are a chatbot that personally, I just have become the biggest advocate for this year. I have been testing it and implementing it in any community I can – my co-workers probably think I’m crazy. And that’s why I’m so glad that Robert is here. Welcome to the show! 

RT: Yeah, thank you so much, and happy Friday. This is uh – thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to this. 

CS: So first, I want to talk about – your bot was named by your clients. I think that’s super cool. 

RT: Yeah, that’s a funny story because when we first built it, we tested it with a few clients that I had known for some years, and they’re testing it against a few other bots – this is a couple years ago, and my business partner and I, his name is Zlatko Bogoevski for those who those who – you can call him “Z”. We were testing it, and we were talking with 3 clients in 3 days and every time we talked to them they said, “Well this is such a better bot!” So by the third time we heard it I said, “I think we just need to call this BetterBot!” and that’s how we came up with the name, and thanks to the clients that helped us name it!

CS: I just think it’s so cool.

MR: It’s a great name too. Easy to remember. 

RT: It’s got alliteration, too right? BetterBot. BetterBot. We see people actually saying that at trade shows and events. They say, “BetterBot, Betterbot”. So, rolls off the tongue. 

CS: So, I’d love to just jump into kind of, you know, what brought you to the bot world. And I want to just kind of talk about – you obviously have been in multifamily for a while, so kind of how you got to the bot part. 

RT: Yeah, so I was fortunate to work with one of the largest chat companies in the world, and in so doing I got introduced to the bot technology about 5 years ago. So I traveled around, really four countries. And I loved some of the technologies I’d see on [companies] and I loved what it could do for industry, but there wasn’t one that I saw that was a good fit for our industry. I happened across Zlatko, my business partner (“Z”) again and he had built a proprietary bot platform and I said, “That’s it – that’s the one we’re looking for”. He had built it perfectly for our industry and so that’s the beginning of the story. I can certainly get into some of the consumer behaviors and industry behaviors if you’d like that propelled it. 

CS: Please, yes!

RT: Well, in that case. So what was interesting was really two big drivers we started noticing and people often ask, “What is the deal with all these bots? Everywhere I turn and all over the world and websites and even in our industry…” And really that’s coming from two places – the first being from prospective renters. And consumers and, you know, renters want real-time, accurate conversations. They want them, wherever they are in the digital marketplace. Whether it’s on a property website, whether it’s on Yelp, or Google My Business or Facebook. 

The other thing we started noticing with consumers is, they want control over the leasing process, and you know what – why not? They have control over buying an airline ticket and selecting their seat. They can even select the meal they want. If you go to a hotel website, you can upgrade your room and you have, people can order from any restaurant and have it delivered to their house. And the third thing we saw with respect to renters is they really don’t want to fill out lead forms any more. Nobody does. They want fast, simple, easy access to the information. 

50% of prospective renter leads go unanswered by the property. 20 years later, today, it’s the same stat.

And if you don’t mind, I’ll just jump over to the multifamily marketers. What we discovered with them – and it’s funny because you brought up that I started ApartmentGuide.com (or helped started) in 1999 – back then there was this statistic: 50% of prospective renter leads go unanswered by the property. 20 years later, today, it’s the same stat. All these leads are being generated and people aren’t responding because they’re overwhelmed. That means marketing dollars are being wasted. Multifamily has a 34% leasing staff attrition rate. That’s higher than retail, and the number one reason given is they’re overwhelmed at the property. And the final thing we kept hearing is, “Robert, please do not introduce another technology into our industry that’s going to increase our cost and increase our work. If you’re going to send me something, reduce our cost, reduce our workload, or both”. And that is what led us to bot technology, what we call, “Conversational Leasing”. 

MR: I think that’s great, because you hit a point that we hear often, that everyone is overwhelmed and they don’t have time to follow up on things like that. So well, I mean, the world of bots, I want to go into that just a little bit. I know some people are… they want that actual conversation, you know, versus just an auto reply. Can you kind of decipher what you’re saying versus just doing that, you know, “Hey, here’s the question that’s been programmed and this is the reply”. 

RT: Right. So let’s start with the concept of “chat”. So chat is human to human. The problem is our industry is, there’s none around – they’re not available. That was always the big miss with chat – how do you have someone on the other end. Even call centers that do have chats still are having lag times and simply don’t know the property as well as the leasing staff at the property. So, chats have always been a struggle in our industry, but bots provide the other side of it. 

They are really two kinds of bot technologies. One of them is what we call, “Natural Language Processing”, so NLP for short. That means that people can type in free stuff, free text, and the bot will try to figure out what it’s saying, and it will respond. So it kind of emulates, or tries to emulate, a human on the other end. The other side of that is guided conversation methodology, or “Guided Conversation”. That’s where all the text is all pre-selected. So natural language processing seems really cool. It’s a great, shiny toy, it’s got a big ‘wow’ factor, but it’s got a big problem – it doesn’t work. When I worked with the largest NLP in the world, 3 out of 10 times it would fail – the bot would just get confused. So, cool, but not cool when you have 30% of the time the bot’s getting confused, creating a very frustrating user experience. At BetterBot, we actually created the largest proprietary natural language processing engine in all of multifamily – and we walked away from it in favor of guided conversation. And that’s because with guided conversation, you can actually preselect the intents, the answers are half a second, there’s no confusion, and it guides them down a certain path to get the answers they want very quickly. 

So just to kind of bifurcate the fact that there’s two different kinds of bots: one’s NLP, one’s guided conversation. We went the GCM route and our results have been exponentially better as a result. 

CS: Yeah, I want to continue to talk about results. Sorry, Matt – did I interrupt you? 

MR: No, I just wanted to thank you for clarifying that, because I know that’s the perception with bots, that there are 2 different avenues on those, so. 

CS: Yeah, I want to dive in more about conversion, because I think that’s really what attracts me so much to the bot, that, not only the fact that when I’m searching for anything, I would much prefer talking to a bot personally, so I know there has to be people out there like me, who you know, are looking for that as well. But what I also love so much is that, it really gets that touchpoint to where you’re almost – you know it’s a bot, but it’s almost like you’re talking to a person. And so, when you guys were developing that, and kind of talking to those multifamily [clients], what were some of those conversion statistics that they were wanting to see, or that you were hoping to achieve? 

RT: Uh, you know, wow – great question. There’s a couple ways to answer that. Let me answer it this way: so I’ll give you some stats and kind of back into that a little bit. When you drop the bot today – cause look, I’ve seen some shiny toys come and go in this industry – and at the end of the day, it’s all about the metrics. Do the metrics work? And what’s the math? So when you take a bot like a BetterBot and you drop it on a property website, and maybe you put it on Google My Business, cause our bot can go on all these channels, and Facebook and Yelp, what happens is, the bot on a particular property per month, has about 200 unique conversations. So, some of them may talk to the bot and then, you know, 3 days later come back and talk again. Well, we only count that as 1 conversation. So the average bot on a property website has about 200 conversations answering about 150 questions. So even if they never become a lead or an appointment, or anything else, sometimes the best renter is the renter you never had to talk to. So it’s already deflecting all these – because they simply don’t qualify, they don’t have what you’re looking for.

 But we do see on average, of those 200 conversations, what we call 26 handoffs. That’s where we’re handing it off to a human. Half of those are actually appointments actually being scheduled. So the bot is scheduling on average 13 appointments per property per month with an astounding 90% show rate. I didn’t even know what a show rate was before five months ago, and I’ve been in this industry 20 years, so that’s obviously where people are, for those of you who are in the property management business, that’s where someone schedules an appointment and they actually show up. So we’re seeing a 90% where call centers get 50% and properties get 65. That’s because the bot’s just letting them select their own and reselect their own times for coming. We did, to answer the last part of that, the metrics. So we drilled all that down and did some lease matching with a lot of companies. We said, “Ok, how many leases on average is the bot actually helping to facilitate in a given month for your property?” And the answer was 4, on average. 4 leases per property per month, and you know that 70% of those are after hours, between the hours of 6pm and 8am, so the bot is quite literally working for you while your staff is at home watching tv or sleeping. 

CS: Yep, that’s so important. 

MR: Yeah, and I think the, you bring up a good point about qualifying ones that aren’t a good fit, because I can imagine how much time that properties spend on that alone, there’s a value that you probably don’t even look at a lot of the time. You’re doing the budgeting and things like that, and all that time, I won’t say you wasted, but you didn’t work. 

RT: Well, and you could say ‘wasted’, because if it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. 

MR: Right. 

RT: Don’t you want to know right away before you start getting your very valuable time involved? Let’s figure that out from the start. 

MR: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. So, I have a question: we’re kind of talking about, bots, you know obviously deciphering the right candidate and things like that. And with the AI technology, does it look at everything, and if I ask something that’s too much, is it looking at all the steps or the patterns and things like that with everyone, or is it specific to the property, you know, based on its community and things like that?

RT: So, let me throw this up. And look, it took me a while to figure this out – the AI is the term we hear a lot in our industry, “artificial intelligence”. It actually really doesn’t exist anywhere in multifamily today. That’s machine learning algorithms that teach it over time. So we actually had BetterBot.AI once upon a time, and we were like, “We don’t have any AI in it!” Nobody does, there’s no real AI machine learning. There are rules-based, there’s NLP, but that’s in itself not AI either. So, just want to throw that out there, because I get asked that a lot, and you’re not alone. I mean that comes up all the time. What we do is we create each bot and we train it, so some bot tech companies actually have the property train it – I’ve never fully understood that because properties are not adept at training a bot, so we train the bot, we configure it to the property, add in all the calendars, and so forth.

What’s interesting is, we’ve begun to see patterns and behaviors, it’s a natural click-streaming. We’re noticing people don’t always start at the same place – they start at different parts of the conversation, so we’ve optimized against where do people start, and after doing 2 million conversations, we’ve gotten really darn good at figuring out where they start, and where they want to go. So we call that “circular directed logic”. We know where you’ve been, we think we know where you’re going at the next intent, which makes the conversation much more seamless. We’ve had a few folks say, “Wow, this bot almost seems too simple”. Do you know how much time went into making that bot look too simple? I equate it to when people saw AOL and Microsoft and all these crazy sites, and along comes Google and all this white space. And it was just so simple to use, and that’s really what we’re going for at BetterBot is just to make it a very simple experience that you can get through (on average) in 90 seconds if you’re a consumer. 

CS: Yeah. I also love the reporting. So, what makes BetterBot so valuable for, just personally in marketing and for my teams is the fact that they really don’t have to do any work until that appointment is made, or until you know, that conversation is actually fed into. So, we use an ILM system, or we use a lead-manager system, so all of the bot appointments and conversations are fed directly into the community’s software instantly. It’s seamless, and I know you hit on this, how it connects to my Google My Business, which is not something I’d say many people are versed on connecting with and figuring out. We’ve watched many conversations get closed just by having that link to make an appointment. We’ve also watched senior citizen communities – this is one thing I love, is that this bot is actually used by a ton of their kids helping their parents find housing. 

RT: Yup, yup. 

CS: And so there’s just, I just want you to talk about all the ways the bot can be used for kind of our listeners who aren’t in the chatbot world yet, ‘cause I know I could talk about it for years. 

So when someone goes to ILS and they click on ‘website’, they can actually go over to, have the bot pop up and schedule those appointments and do all that.

RT: Hey, go for it – you’re doing a great job so far! Go for it! Yes, so different ways the bot can be used, certainly is…Let me just start with channels. I know we often say, “Oh it’s a chatbot and it goes on our website!” Well, yeah, it can do that. It can also actually go on internet listing sites under the, you know, ‘click on property website’. So when someone goes to ILS and they click on ‘website’, they can actually go over to, have the bot pop up and schedule those appointments and do all that. Yes, it can be on Google My Business. I gotta tell you, Google My Business is killing it, I mean, they’re getting a lot of traffic and it’s typical Google, right? And so, if you’re on Google My Business, a lot of people want to go ahead and schedule that appointment right there – well, the bot can do that. It can actually be launched from GMB – don’t even have to go to the website. We work with Facebook again, so you don’t have to go to the site, and you can have the agent 24/7, 365. We’ve gotten quite a few on Yelp and a few here and there on Instagram, so those are growing a little bit. 

One other thing I’ll throw out is, we can intercept text messages. So if a consumer texts and says, “hey, I’m interested in the property”, the bot responding can go, “oh hey, I forwarded this to my human friends but I can help you now. Click here”. We actually take them out of text and into our mobile version, our web-enabled mobile version, which is my favorite, and so, they’re having a conversation on their mobile, and a lot of them actually think they’re still on text. And so, it’s answering it so the property isn’t having to do this. And the last thing is email. So we can intercept emails coming in from various sources, and the bot can respond and separate the tire-kickers and prospects. So you’ve got channels and you’ve got mediums, and we can do kind of all of that anywhere, 24/7. 

MR: That’s great, and I think it’s also important for listeners to understand that we have changed the way we interact online. So I think, like, you know, some of the hesitation may be that people don’t want to talk to bots, but I would disagree. Just like with the old saying with, on ads. People used to not want to click ads because they thought they weren’t trustworthy – well that’s a thing of the past, so you know, I think it’s important that we realize that we have changed on how we view things online. And so, have you seen anything that stands out, patterns of behavior from the pandemic? Are you seeing any change before/after? 

People don’t want to talk to bad bots. But they do like to talk to good bots. If a bot has a successful conversation, it has upwards of a 95% consumer satisfaction score – CSat score.

RT: Oh, wow. Boy is that ever timely. And let me agree with you. People don’t want to talk to bad bots. But they do like to talk to good bots. If a bot has a successful conversation, it has upwards of a 95% consumer satisfaction score – CSat score. The average human chatting with another human has a 65% at best. So the CSat score is way higher with the bot, and why is because it’s so responsive. Pandemic, yes. Wow. Come January 15th we had a client in California say, “hey, is there anyway you can throw virtual tours and videos in the bot?” And we said, “that’s a great idea!”, so we listen to our clients, and so we built it and on March 15th, we launched virtual tours and videos inside the bot. March 15th, when the whole world blew up. So March 16th, we had everyone asking us if we could put virtual tours and videos inside the bot and we were fortunate that we had already helped that [client]. But with everyone scrambling and figuring out how to work from a distance, we saw an increase of 60% of our business grew from March to May of this year because people wanted to figure out, “how do we service in today’s pandemic environment?” 

The good news is, I think we’re seeing the end of the pandemic on the horizon, but the good news also is, it really hasn’t changed that we’ve learned that bot technology can help – pandemic or not, as we’re seeing after hours, so. Yes it has helped navigate through this troubling time, but I think we’re learning a lot about what we’ll keep with us after the pandemic’s over, so I think bots are here to stay. 

MR: Yeah, I agree, and I think that’s a great thing to point out, because you know, as more properties are going to evolve, it’s going to be important that, you know, for listeners who don’t have that understanding that consumers aren’t going to alter their expectations. They’re going to be expecting and want to see and tour anytime that they want to, and have communication anytime they want to, and if you’re not there, that could, you know, definitely hurt. So I think it’s good to make [people] aware of the changes that are happening. 

RT: Yeah, yeah. And a lot of them are going to stay, no doubt. 

CS: Well I want to just ask one last question. I feel like you kind of already hit on where this is going, I mean, just the whole intercepting a text message and kind of changing I see that really coming out in the future. I’ve watched texts really take a leap in the past couple years as a method that people do want to use. Do you think there’s anything that is going to come about here soon, or do you have any future things that you can talk about with the bot?

RT: Yes, I do! So a couple of things: I’ll speak on broad terms because we’re going to launch some stuff 1st quarter. One of the things I will throw out is, when we first built this, I don’t think we fully understood (just to be honest) all that bots could really solve. So, we have learned a lot, and in the process we’ve learned a lot of problems that the industry is facing. I alluded to this earlier, which is the overwhelming volume of leads coming from internet listing sites, the ILSs will tell you, “Hey, these are great leads!” and the properties are like, “yeah, I don’t know – I may disagree with that”. Well, how do you know if you’re not responding? “Well we don’t respond!” And so you have that back and forth, and both ILSs and properties are very interested in seeing how bot technology can become an intermediary between the two, and separate the tire kickers from the prospects that I alluded to earlier. That is something we’re calling our “pro-product”, we’re coming out with it in 1st quarter called “Nurture” – so it will have ILS intercepts, it will have follow-ups. We’re going to dive much deeper into the resident portion to help service the resident. We’re launching student today actually. We’ve launched our student bot and we’re going to be launching the industry’s first affordable bot in January. So these are some trends and things we’re going to solve for the industry. 

CS: I can’t wait!

MR: You’re going to come back and tell us all about this later, right?

RT: I’d love to. 

MR: Awesome. 

CS: Oh this is so great. I always hate when we run out of time. 

MR: I know, but Robert has an offer for our listeners. 

RT: That’s right! Hey, so – and I really appreciate you having us on, and just to thank you and thank all of your listeners we’re going extend our, we’re calling it our “Bye to 2020 special”, so we’ve said, “hey, if you want to bring it on, we won’t charge you any of our bot build fees”. Normally $150, we’re waiving it in December, but to your listeners, we’re going to extend that all throughout January. So, if any of your listeners, just let us know, “hey I heard you on the podcast, I’d like to do it”. Take advantage of it, and we’ll build as many bots as you’d like in January. We’ll waive that set-up fee for you. 

CS: I’m telling you guys, you gotta get these bots. 

RT: I agree. 


CS: Thank you so much, Robert. 

RT: You bet, thank you!

MR: And remember I was telling you last time, Courtney, if you like our show, leave us a comment. And we’re on all your favorite streaming podcast channels: iTunes, Spotify, I Heart Radio, and now, Pandora, so hey – we’re getting up there, right? Alright, till next time. 

real estate messenger bots

5 Misconceptions about AI in Multifamily

With so many services now classifying themselves as AI, it’s hard to tell whether or not they’re actually based in tech, or just using a catchy buzzword to distract us from the wizards behind the curtain.

In 2018, we launched BetterBot.ai, and began marketing our product with the term “AI” thrown in to any material we created. As we continued to develop our product further though, we soon realized that AI is more than just a simple buzzword to slap onto a piece of collateral. It’s a term that’s often used when referring to the Natural Language Processing (NLP) software that builds the foundation of many chatbots and other industry tools, but what does it really mean? Today, we’re going to dive into what this tech really is, and the most common misconceptions about AI in multifamily. 

Natural Language Processing & AI

Put simply, NLP is the layer that communicates between computers and the humans interacting with them. Where AI comes in is through the process of machine learning. This process organizes the information collected from NLP and puts it into action. In the chatbot space today, this part is often overlooked due to the sheer complexity of this process and lack of understanding of its potential. 

The thing is, there is no true 100% AI chatbot or leasing tool (yet). Every product currently on the market requires some degree of human assistance and intervention. 

As conversational designer Maggie Jabczynski put it, “Over time, a bot can better understand its users as it receives more and more word combinations. Then – thanks to human intervention – it connects sentences from users in the chat to correct answers.” This learning curve is one of the many fallbacks to bot tech that relies on NLP. Our language is constantly evolving, so the work of the AI is never truly finished. 

Common misconceptions about AI in multifamily

1. All chatbots use AI

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are a variety of different chatbot types that all use different technologies and levels of AI to engage with people. For example, BetterBot is a guided conversation bot, which leads users through a branched series of questions and responses depending on their query.

2. AI replaces the need for human intervention

AI and AI-adjacent tech like chatbots have gotten a bad rap in the past decade or so, and all because of the misconception that these technologies are out to replace human workers and jobs. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Like we mentioned before, there is no 100% AI-based chatbot, which means that this tech will always have to be guided by trained (human) professionals. 

3. Only AI chatbots can give creative replies

One of the great things about guided conversation chatbots is that they can be programmed to tackle any question or query, all with a unique voice. Want your bot to be straight to the point? Cool. Want to inject a little more humor and friendliness into your bot? You totally can. However you want to get creative with your bot, you can – no AI needed. 

4. All it takes to train AI is uploading your website resources

One of the biggest misconceptions about AI in multifamily is that training an AI-based or NLP chatbot just involves info-dumping all of your resources and FAQs into a database. While that would be amazing and save us all so much time, unfortunately that is not how it actually works. There’s a lot involved with creating a functional AI architecture, and most property management teams either a) don’t have the resources or b) have no actual need to invest in that.

5. Your bot technology can self-improve

If you build your chatbot on intelligent software, it should be able to continually improve upon itself without human intervention, right? Not exactly. While neural networks can learn on their own, there are no bots currently available that can learn independently from past conversations without some kind of human intervention.

As we continue to grow the BetterBot.ai brand, we want to be intentional about emphasizing transparency – not only in our process, but in our data. We believe there’s no better way to understand how humans work and interact with each other than to have humans, not AI, be the masterminds behind our chatbot. No AI, no robots, just human-generated guided conversations that have a proven track record for converting prospects into renters.

multifamily tour scheduling

5 Reasons Why Your Student Housing Site Needs a Chatbot

Today’s students are busier than ever. Between classes, internships, jobs, and enjoying all the fun that college life has to offer, there’s little time to spend searching for housing. What’s more, property management teams have a lot on their plate as well, and often have a hard time keeping up with all the leads coming their way. Fortunately, bot technology is transforming the student housing space for today’s digital-first world, and at BetterBot, we’re helping lead the charge. Here’s 5 of our top reasons why your educational organization will benefit from a student housing chatbot. 

Student housing chatbot stats

Bots have changed the game when it comes to multifamily, and it’s no different when it comes to student housing. And, with great bot technology becoming more affordable and accessible, more universities and colleges are leveraging it. As of 2020, 37% of all educational organizations use some form of a chatbot for student housing. 

One of the many benefits of chatbots that property teams love is that it takes the pressure off lead conversion. For example, property management teams who use BetterBot are able to convert 21.3% of chatbot conversations into handoffs. 

Why your student housing site needs a chatbot

Along with giving your property teams more peace of mind (and who doesn’t want that?), here’s some of the top advantages a student housing chatbot can provide:

Simplified scheduling

Through chatbots, students looking for their next place can easily view available properties and floor plans. Instead of having to jump through hoops and fill out lead form after lead form, prospective renters can explore units with ease, and when it comes time, can schedule an appointment directly from the bot. 

Interactive student resources

Oftentimes, students looking for housing want to see more than a floor plan before they make a commitment for a semester or year. The good news is, chatbots can easily be loaded up with all sorts of interactive resources that people can use to assess whether or not a particular property is a good fit. Things like virtual tours and 3D videos can provide a much more accurate snapshot of a particular space, and can help students get the info they need without having to schedule an in-person appointment. 

Omnichannel management  

One of the great things about chatbots is that they don’t have to live exclusively on your property website. Instead, they can be integrated into your wider digital and social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Google My Business, and more. If you’re looking to connect with students where they already are, this is a great way to do it. 

Student housing chatbots lead to more conversions

Chatbots make it easy for students to get the information they need quickly and easily. Instead of having to wait around for a live customer service representative to respond to their queries, bots give prospective renters everything they need to know in order to make a decision. That’s why we see 21.3% of conversations converting into handoffs.  

Actionable, in-depth reporting

A great bot will offer your team a dashboard that collects quality KPIs and offers actionable insights at a glance. Instead of having to track and organize all your metrics on your own, chatbots do the work for you, leading to overall higher performance and efficiency. 

Learn more about our student housing chatbot solution here!