Bots Solve Problem of ‘Too Many’ Unqualified Leads
For the everyday consumer, the “You Might Also Like” button
can certainly be your friend. But for many apartment marketers, it’s become an
It’s a nuisance because one of the industry’s most nagging problems
– receiving “too many leads” – persists because so many of those leads are
Karen Kossow, Marketing Director, Paradigm Companies, says
her teams were wasting too much time on unqualified leads, a lot of which were
generated by “You Might Also Like” links on websites.
“In the past, our team was responding up to three times with
a lead and was getting no response,” she said. “Our team started to ignore many
of them. When a bot can segregate the leads based on quality – such as prospects
who engaged with the bot – it makes us much more efficient and successful.”
Since it rolled out the bots at five communities in
March 2020 and nine more in late summer last year, Paradigm Companies has had
777,948 people greeted and 2,604 appointments scheduled through the bot.
Newest Product: Lead Optimization
Kim Boland, Director of Digital
Marketing, Morgan Properties, has had 14,672 appointments scheduled through
Better Bot (an average of 30,380 conversations per month)
while running at 346 of its properties. It
enables its customers to schedule appointments, schedule virtual tours or to
talk to the onsite staff.
She’s taken the next step with the
company’s newest offering – Better Bot for Leads – and is testing it at three
communities through listings on an ILS that provides her portfolio with a great
deal of leads.
“We all know there are a lot of renters who are looking, but
who are not that serious, yet,” Boland says. “They might inquire at four or
five properties at a time. Our staff was spending too much time following up
with prospects and when they did, it was going nowhere.”
Better Bot for Leads looks to determine
when that lead is ready to take the next step and it nurtures the leads through
email follow-ups, inquiring only if the person is deemed truly interested or
wants to schedule a tour or engage in any way. The bot has summited 22,448
leads to Morgan Properties of people who wanted more information.
At a community in Maryland, for example, Boland
received 396 leads from Better Bot for Leads. From that, four appointments were
scheduled and three of those wanted more information; 23 open and engaged with
the email, 145 opened and at the current time did not engage and 220 remained
unopened. “If these were sent to our team, they would have been wasting their
time on empty requests,” Boland says.
Websites Can Be Intimidating
She says the bot is reasonably priced, “and for our customers,
it creates a positive experience because they get the information that they
lead without getting frustrated or impatient. They don’t have to click through
a bunch of pages on a website and deal with drop-down menus, etc.”
Kossow also finds the bot to be a worthy alternative to the
community’s full-display website. The bot discreetly sits on the home page.
“Websites are great, and we all love our own community
websites, but they can sometimes be intimidating to new visitors who don’t
always know where to click to do certain tasks or to look for certain things,”
Kossow says. “The bot comfortably leads them through the process with the right
prompts and links. We were able to include videos and “360” images in the links
sent by the bot to the prospects.”
Paradigm also has the bot on its Google My Business
accounts, includes it on its prospect e-blasts, and has it linked to its
Facebook accounts, using it to communicate through Facebook Messenger.
Boland links Better Bot to its Google My Business (GMB)
listings. “We all know that Google is taking over the world, so we want to put
as much information about our property on our GMB listings,” Boland says. “A
link to our bot makes that happen. So many people who have contacted us have
never even visited our website because they found us through Google My Business
and the bot gave them the information such as availability, scheduling, etc.,
that they wanted.
Constantly Looking to Improve
Kossow says Better Bot has been one of the easiest products
to install in her property management software. “It has allowed us to operate our
marketing 24-7, which has become so important,” says Kossow, who is looking to
install it at affordable communities in the near future.
Boland says that Better Bot’s willingness to listen to its
customers has led to greater success.
“They listen and make adjustments based on requests,” she
says. “They want to hear your point of view and ideas.”
One example was that we helped them craft the initial
follow-up emails that were sent to prospects, asking that they include a link
to the bot to make it easier for apartment searchers.
“People these days want information and answers immediately,
and they are getting that with Better Bot,” Boland says.
Multifamily Social Media Summit is one of our favorite conferences, and we will tell you why. We always get precious insights and make great connections at this event. Multifamily Social Media Summit is typically hosted in Napa, CA, each year, and this conference is the only one specifically focused on social media in the multifamily industry. It is specifically developed for property management teams leveraging social media, influencer, and content marketing to retain and attract residents. 2021 was year nine for this event, and it keeps getting better every year. Here are some reasons why we find it so valuable:
Multifamily Social Media Summit helps teams form their social strategy. They provide valuable information into the ever-changing world of social media. With the insights gained at each and every session, multifamily marketing teams gain the knowledge and confidence to host a thriving online community for their properties. This is just one of the reasons why this conference is so important.
The connections cultivated during this event are priceless. This event allows individuals to get to know each other and discuss some of the trials and triumphs in the multifamily industry. The event boasts several events where attendees can network with others and form genuine, professional relationships.
During this conference, attendees are given the opportunity to connect with many resources. A section of the forum dedicated to multifamily-specific vendors and resources solely focused on helping property management companies. Not only do guests get the opportunity to connect with these resources in person, but they can take those relationships back with them and find solutions to dilemmas they have been facing.
Overall, Multifamily Social Media Summit is one of the most valuable conferences in the industry. Along with providing a space to create a social strategy, grow connections, and find resources, the conference offers lasting memories. The experiences that are available at this conference are so meaningful and will continue to last. For more information on Multifamily Social Media Summit, CLICK HERE.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought upon plenty of new challenges in the multifamily industry. Most companies had to get creative about how they continued with business during this time. These creative fixes came with new trends that would stick around even once the pandemic slowed and things began to return to normal. We had the pleasure of chatting at AIM Reconnect on the topic of pandemic tech trends that are here to stay and those that aren’t. Some of the crucial issues we covered include:
How chatbots can assist with virtual tours
Ways you can reach your customer beyond property websites
Ways technology can assist with overwhelm in property offices
In this discussion BetterBot’s COO & Co-Founder, Robert Turnbull, shares about how virtual tours became imperative during the pandemic and how they will continue to be. He shares how BetterBot realized that this needed to be a feature that was available to the public. He also discusses the method behind BetterBot’s framing of virtual tours on their platform.
Shane Gilman, Vice President of Marketing at Gates Hudson, shares his experience using bots on platforms other than property websites. He talks about the importance of reaching prospects right where they are and how this shaped his marketing strategy at Gates Hudson.
Robert Turnbull also shares essential statistics about overwhelm on site. He talks about different ways to alleviate that stress so that site teams can focus on what’s in front of them. It’s increasingly important that employees are just as satisfied as to the residents who live in each community. Therefore, management companies should find ways to ease the burden on their teams to complete lasting leases.
There are a number of pandemic trends that will stick around long after the world returns to normal, especially when it comes to technology. To understand even more of these trends, check out the full discussion below. For more information on how BetterBot can assist, CLICK HERE.
At BetterBot, we’ve reached a huge milestone! We’ve greeted over 50 million renters through our platform over the last two years. Our product has evolved into a more effective platform over time, and we’ve learned so much. With that being said, we want to share seven things we’ve learned from greeting over 50 million renters.
1.After Hours Traffic Is Increasing
We’ve found that on average, 58% of our customer’s traffic is coming after hours. That’s over half of their traffic! We see this as a trend industry-wide. This highlights the importance of having service for prospective customers after the offices are closed.
2. Onboarding Should Be Easy
No two properties are alike, so why should your onboarding experience be cookie-cutter/copy and paste? We know that bringing on new technology can be overwhelming. Over time we have maximized our onboarding process to ensure that it’s easy and accurate for our customers. It takes a 30-minute conversation to get our users onboarded, and it’s the most straightforward thing you’ll ever add to your processes.
3. Guided Conversation is Effective
It’s crucial to guide renters so that they want to schedule a tour. However, you can’t force it. Lead gating can disrupt the prospect journey, which is why it’s been important to our team to create a flow that naturally guides the conversation so that prospects are eager to visit your community.
4. Different Properties Call For Different Experiences
We know that all properties are different, especially when it comes to working with different property types. When engaging with an affordable community or a community built for students, the experience a prospect has when engaging with an affordable community has other parameters, qualifications, and even a different way of leasing. So we created Student & Affordable Bots to handle that and create a custom experience for your prospects.
5. Accuracy Is Important
Prospects expect a seamless, effortless, and easy interaction when engaging with a chatbot, including excellent access to property information while providing accurate and up-to-date answers. With Natural Language Processing (NLP) bots, we’ve seen a 33% error rate on average. That’s an F average if we’re looking at a typical grading scale! With Guided Conversation bots like ours, the conversation is natural and accurate all the time.
6. Accessibility Is a Non-Negotiable
It’s important that your prospects can reach you anywhere. Renters want real-time information, and they want to be able to contact you on any channel. That’s why with BetterBot, we’ve found great success using omnichannel marketing. Using our omi-channel marketing, you can reach prospects on any platform, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Craigslist, Apartments.com, Apartment List, and so much more. You’ll never miss a prospect, and you’ll acquire more qualified leads.
7. Time Is Valuable
Time is the most valuable thing we have, which is why we understand the importance of spending it wisely. We’ve developed our bot to handle the menial tasks so that leasing teams can focus on what’s essential….being human!
Greeting over 50 million renters sounds daunting, but for us, it’s been fun. We’ve learned so much about what renters crave, and we are continuing to evolve as we learn more. Stay tuned to find out what enhancements are on the horizon and see how we’ll keep improving!
Did you know BetterBot contacts are just 13 days from contact to move-in? To compare, Apartments.com is 30 days, and other ILSs are between 60-80 days. So how do we do it? It’s pretty simple, and we’re not keeping it a secret either. Here are three ways BetterBot can help you convert even more leads.
1. Omnichannel Marketing
When your properties are utilizing omnichannel marketing, they can reach a wider audience. With BetterBot, you can place a simple link to your bot to share information about your property with prospects on several sites, including Google My Business, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Craigslist, and virtually anywhere else you’d like. You’re also able to select what point users jump in. For instance, you could have prospects jump in at the schedule appointment mark, photo gallery mark, amenities mark, or any other point you can think up. If you’d rather, you can have prospects receive the entire experience. No matter what you choose, you won’t miss out on a single prospect, no matter where they are coming from.
2. Streamlined Information
With our bot, your prospects will receive the exact information they’re looking for. No glitches, no hiccups, just the facts. We know how important it is that our renters get real-time information. We also see the importance of quick information. That’s why we’ve designed our bot to do just that!
3. Customizable Bot
Make the bot your very own! We have an immense amount of customizations available to you within our bot, including:
Resident Portal Access
Not to mention, we also offer a student and an affordable bot so users can have an even more customized experience. When users see that your bot is branded, they will associate it with your services, which will instill brand recognition.
Overall, our bot provides an incomparable experience for prospects and residents alike. If you’re wondering how exactly users convert so effortlessly, we’ve given you some of our answers. Contact us today to see for yourself!
Our founder and COO, Robert Turnbull, had the fantastic opportunity to be featured on the Digible Dudes Podcast. In this episode, Robert shares valuable insights about chatbots in the multifamily space. He also weighs in on the user experience with multifamily chatbots. Here are a few of the highlights from this episode. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can find it HERE or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Discussing Omnichannel Marketing – 32:59-34:17
“The bot, our bot can be put on a property website, but it was the only one that’s designed to actually be distributed to Google my business, which is an Instagram and Facebook, Facebook marketplace, Yelp, and the list goes on and on. So wherever a consumer, prospective renter find that property, the bot could actually live there and answer your questions.
24/7, 365. Now you talk about stickiness, if the bots on your property website and on GMB and yelp and, and, and, and now it’s a little hard to replace us because we’re so baked in, and it’s actually working really well. Google my business, and so for some of our properties represents 40% of the conversations happening.
And so GMB is just killing it. Um, and when you see the bot working at 3:00 AM, midnight, 5:00 AM having conversations on Google my business. Now you’re, now you’re starting to get some stickiness. We are getting into what we call WIP: web lead intercept protocol, where we can actually start intercepting leads coming through from various ILSs and responding and converting those into synchronous bot conversations and send just leads going into a CRM. Now we’re starting to create additional value where we’re baking ourselves into the processes. And suddenly, we’re not just a bot on your property website. We’re an integral part of your marketing solution.”
Why Bots Fit For Today’s Consumer – 48:40-48:59
“Again, people just want information. They want it now. 24/7, 365, and they want what they want. What they don’t want to do is fill out a lead form. They don’t want to wait until tomorrow. So these are things that are not changing anytime soon. And this is why bots just kind of fit today’s consumer.”
BetterBot’s Company Culture – 1:03:58-1:04:31
“I mean, I don’t just think it is a better bot; I think it is a better company. And I feel very much like a family now that said, that’s maybe a little kumbaya and touchy-feely, but I mean, come on when you’re having people who are running various departments in your company and people in your company who feel that way, you’re doing something right.
And to me, business is less than half of it is the people you’re working with and what they’re giving away. That really makes the difference. And that’s why I love working with this type of style of company, the size of company, your type of company. I think we share these philosophies.”
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 LeaseHawk, Anyone Home Inc, ChatIQ by RENTCafé, Lisa by AppFolio, Inc., MeetElise, Respage, and Diffe. Rent AI. Please take a look at how we stack up next to the competition.
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. “
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.