Virtual Tours and Videos

We’ve gone virtual with BetterTours!

Well…BetterBot was already virtual. But now virtual tours and videos are part of the bot experience!

Have you ever come up with what you thought was a good idea and then it turned into so much more than that? That’s exactly what happened when one of our SoCal clients asked if we could put their Matterport tours into the bot. So in January we began building out this functionality. Before the pandemic hit we assumed this would be a nice added feature making things easier for prospects searching for the perfect place to live.

Fast forward a few months and now this isn’t just a nice-to-have feature, it’s an absolute necessity. In-person tours aren’t a viable option for many people right now, and it may not be for the foreseeable future. So BetterBot launched BetterTours and videos! We created the ability to embed hosted tours and videos in the actual bot experience. No other bot solution has this capability, and this is just one of the many functionalities, tools, and services that make BetterBot…better.

At BetterBot we are always trying to make life easier and more efficient for both multifamily properties and their future residents, so when we built this new functionality we did it to incorporate just about any hosted tour or video. Some of the most popular videos now appearing in BetterBot community bots are virtual tours hosted by Zillow, Matterport, FocalRack, and Helix. It also had videos hosted by YouTube, Vimeo, Realync, and Roundme. 

It’s only been a few months, but the addition of virtual tours and videos to the bot is already transforming how prospects interact with BeeBee as they hunt for the right place to live. Since launching this new capability, the “Virtual Tours” button is officially the most clicked on option in BetterBot…by a lot. It’s the next best thing to being able to check out a property in person, and it’s far more efficient and safe. With the new functionality of virtual tours in the bot, everyone wins.

Let us host your virtual tours and videos today!

How BetterBot Is Adapting to Help You Survive and Thrive During the Pandemic

While the current Covid-19 pandemic has forced most companies to change the way they do business, this change isn’t all bad.

Over the past year BetterBot’s main goal has been to embrace “no-touch technology”. Today, that phrase has now taken on a whole new meaning. At first BetterBot’s mascot and avatar “BeeBee” was there to make your life easier by scheduling tours and answering simple questions from prospects that unnecessarily took up a lot of human time. Now more than ever this no-touch form of communication is essential to businesses surviving, and even thriving, during these challenging times. It’s about more than saving your team members’ valuable time. It’s about keeping your team and your prospects safe.

While there are quite a few factors that go into demonstrating how BetterBot can help your team succeed, there are two key points to look at when comparing life before Covid-19 hit and life during (and after) this pandemic. 

The first is the number of questions answered by the bot. This number went up 37% from March to April! That’s a huge increase and tells us that people are adapting to the use of technology and virtual interactions now that in-person meetings are generally discouraged. From January to March this number was actually down nearly 10% as people took time to adapt to this new normal, and it wasn’t surprising to see this dip as the world was essentially put on pause. But it didn’t take long to see a significant increase in using the bot to get the answers people were searching for. Even though it’s going to be a while before the world feels “normal” again, people are always going to need a place to live. And just because you can’t walk into a leasing office, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some answers. Many industries have slowed down or been put on pause over the last few months, something Multifamily simply can’t do.

The second key point proving the success of BetterBot’s no-touch technology is the engagement funnel. From March to April there was an increase in prospects greeted (+13%), conversations (+25%), leads (+32%) and appointments (+12%). Not only are more prospects reaching out through the bot, but they are following through and making appointments to check out these properties. BeeBee has even evolved to provide 3D and virtual tours to prospects since this can’t be done in person right now. Just as prospects are adapting to digital assistance, BetterBot is too.  

With the help of BeeBee, the pandemic doesn’t need to slow you down. Your team members don’t need to be wasting their time doing something that BetterBot’s BeeBee can handle, especially when many of your clients have bigger concerns than scheduling a tour or finding out which units are available. We’re all in this together, and with the help of our no-touch technology we’ll not only survive, but thrive, during this pandemic.

If you’d like to learn more about how BetterBot can help your leasing team, take BeeBee for a spin here. If you like what you see, simply fill out the contact form and we’ll get right back to you!

This Is What Makes No-Touch Technology Powerful Today

We are currently on the brink of a significant industry shift. Facing today’s new challenges has only offered us new opportunities to adapt to an ever-evolving market as we begin to see how the role of technology can support businesses while many work from home. Though there is no “cure-all” for these events, many in real estate have looked to technology to help them transition from working on-site, to relying on virtual interactions. What was considered convenient just a few months ago has taken the role of necessity and is enabling us to provide more options for current prospects and customers.

In a time where remote work is becoming a standard, we continue to emphasize and prioritize the importance of human connection in a business. For this reason, we’ve employed a method of rationalization to identify and simplify what prospects are looking for. This is where the role of no-touch technology comes into play. The need for renting homes in a no-touch world has enabled multifamily tech companies like BetterBot to provide alternate solutions for property managers and marketers.

No-Touch Technology functions in the background, while the leasing agent’s time is freed up to focus on tasks that concern clients, or other important objectives. With regard to management properties, agents no longer have to answer rudimentary questions and qualify prospects. In our case, we’ve been able to help detail prospect needs, demonstrate the ease of bot use, and build a connection that enables future tenants to schedule virtual appointments. Agents can now connect with future residents who wish to “tour” or discuss a community.

While disruption has played a factor, we’ve managed to adapt to circumstances by going from scheduling in-person tours to scheduling online appointments. This way future tenants can meet agents using FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom, not to mention other virtual tour options recently integrated with BetterBot, such as 3D virtual property tours and video guides. Many Multifamily leasing agents have used video to provide a virtual open-house tour of the property. Meeting in person is no longer an obstacle in our sector. Especially since multifamily is poised to withstand the current economic climate, as a recent report from Yardi explains. Another report from MorningStar shows that the effects of the pandemic will not only be minimal to the housing market, but multifamily property construction will be affected less long term, compared to previous market dips. “We expect a rebound in housing demand in the second half of 2020, particularly as households respond to lower mortgage rates,” the article states. It is also predicted that social distancing measures will be maintained and ingrained into society for the foreseeable future. That being the case, we recommend utilizing technological innovation that could not only save your business, but save lives in the meantime. Our belief in building and strengthening client relationships is amongst the most important principles to keep in this time; even if it is from behind a webcam.

BetterBot’s no-touch technology is more important than ever as we deploy social distancing protocols while meeting the needs of prospects. In the past, we have found that some bots and other chat solutions required agents to be available in the event the bot couldn’t handle the conversation. With BetterBot, this is no longer necessary. Our definition of no-touch has been adapted to the literal sense of the meaning. Take a look at BetterBot’s demo, and you’ll see how easy it is to schedule 3D tours, answer questions, and lead prospects to start an online application.

For additional help, please feel free to reach out at sales@betterbot.ai. We hope this information finds you well. Please be safe and stay healthy!

Our Commitment To You And Your Team Amidst COVID-19

We recognize that with the constant change of the COVID-19 situation around the world, we’ve all been presented unanticipated challenges. Our hearts and thoughts go out to each and every one of you during this time. With social distancing and self-quarantining becoming more common, we at BetterBot aim to do our part by assisting your leasing staff and prospective renters as best as we can.

As of late, we have adapted our bot to allow rich-media integrated 3D tours, virtual walk-throughs, etc., within the chatbot. You will now be able to direct prospective renters to these virtual tour options, versus in-person prospect meetings. Your bot will also be able to help facilitate live video tours and self-guided tours.

For both our existing customers and those new to BetterBot, we are offering our bot services to your community(ies) with a dramatically reduced bot build fee and a reduced monthly cost with no contractual obligations. Please contact us for specifics. This gives you the option to keep the bot on your site(s) and social channels for as little or as long as your property(ies) need. You may be able to turn off the bot at any time. For our existing BetterBot users, this means you’ll also be able to add the bot to your communities that don’t already have one. If needed, you may access the bot demo at the top of the screen.

We hope this will alleviate any burden or uncertainty your marketing and operations staff may be experiencing right now. All of us at BetterBot are wishing you, and everyone close, well and to please be safe during this time. Our thoughts are with you and your loved ones throughout all of this. We hope this message finds you well.

Sincerely,

BetterBot Team

Is your successful marketing killing your brand?

What we see in multifamily is a story of what happens when well meaning marketers do the right thing. I mean achieving the results you hoped for is good, right? As you’ll see that’s not always the case. Allow me to explain.

Over the last 20 years multifamily marketers have gotten really good at getting the message out and attracting attention from prospective residents. This has been helped by well-funded ILSs, social media and outstanding marketing platforms. The results have been mind blowing and we have seen a steady increase in leads funneling down to leasing teams. One look at a leasing agent’s to-do list and you’ll see tons of leads from various marketing channels like social media, website, ILS platforms, phone and SMS.

And herein lies the problem. The leasing teams are simply not able to respond to a large percentage of these leads. Validating leads is a time consuming activity and people easily get discouraged because you may need to go through many low quality leads to find that one person that will actually come in for a tour. Not easy to do for a person working during office hours only and at the same time juggling 10 other things as part of their workload. Property management companies have tried to solve this by using outside call centers or adding additional staff but those are expensive solutions that result in diminishing returns. Our experience shows that even the best teams barely respond to 50% of their prospect leads.

How does all this leave our future residents feeling? Pretty disappointed actually. They’ve gone through the trouble to reach out on social media, fill out ILS forms and leave voicemails to only be ignored. What is the point of all this great marketing if a large part of the budget is wasted and only resulting in underwhelmed prospects? I think that that most property marketers will agree that this is not the brand engagement they are hoping for.

I’m not suggesting that properties cut back on marketing but they should instead consider ways to close this gap. This may require us to rethink how we structure leasing teams. Conversational AI technology is an option and can help properties engage with prospects in ways that humans simply cannot. Properties must nurture prospective residents to ensure that they are fully assisted during one of their most important life decisions.

Can bots replace humans in multifamily?

Given the attention that AI is receiving lately I’m not surprised to see the elevated levels of anxiety among employees and managers in multifamily. Two weeks ago I was asked to participate in a panel regarding this very question. To nobody’s surprise the conversation took interesting turns as panelists shared their vision of the future. I mean if titans like Jack Ma and Elon Musk can’t agree on the future impact of AI then how can mere mortals like us agree?

Yogi Berra famously said that it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. I feel obligated to give it a shot since a lot of the arguments I hear are based on science fiction and less science than fiction at that.

AI bots are not approaching human intelligence! Currently AI is nothing more than a collection of algorithms fed by large amounts of data and processed by powerful computers. That means that even the smartest AI cannot even come close to a human in natural language understanding. AI machines are not capable of common sense, flexible thinking or empathy. General AI resembling what you see in movies is still not on the horizon as AI is in it’s infant stages.

AI bots will require a rethink to management practices in multifamily. Now that we concluded that AI is not as smart as humans let’s also agree that AI is better than humans at certain tasks. Bots never get tired, can efficiently talk to multiple people at once and crush repetitive tasks. The questions becomes on how to best structure this human and AI coexistence in order to allow humans to concentrate on higher level tasks while the bots handle the mindless repetitive stuff. It can be a powerful combination!

AI is advancing quickly and will provide a competitive advantage for property management companies. Based on where we are today compared to just a few years ago the progress in AI tools has been nothing short of staggering. This aggressive advancement is fueled by two parallel processes. Improvement in AI technology and adoption by end users who have come to prefer interactions with bots vs. humans.

I want to encourage multifamily managers to start exploring solutions today because it can take time to find the perfect human/bot balance. However, when done correctly AI bots can supercharge your organization and hugely improve your interaction with future and current residents. And yes, humans are safe for now.

Generate better leads by using a chatbot on your website

Bots are the best tool to generate leads on your builder website.

These days when people visit websites they are faced with pesky contact forms popping up out every corner, invitations to chat with a live person or suggestions to subscribe to a newsletter.
The reality is that these methods of customer engagement rarely provide decent results and can often have negative effects on customer satisfaction scores. Cost can also be a huge problem especially in the case of live chat. You spend a big chunk of your marketing budget to bring visitors to your website only to see “agent is not available” when trying a live chat.

Chatbots can be effectively deployed to solve many of these problems. With recent advances in AI chatbots can help brands better engage with website visitors that will be more willing to share their information. Here are more potential benefits that you can expect by deploying a chatbot on your website:

  • Help visitors in realtime, no waiting for an agent and no time gaps between agent responses.
  • Engage with visitors 24 hours a day.
  • Focus your live agent on higher value activities while offloading menial tasks to your chatbot.
  • Offer a consistent experience in multiple channels like Facebook, SMS and Web.
  • Your chatbot can provide real value that will encourage visitors to share more information.
  • Chat transcripts can be forwarded to live agents for seamless handoff.
  • Sentiment analysis can measure how visitors really feel about your brand message.

Start generating more qualified leads and consider adding an AI chatbot to your digital arsenal.

Can chatbots replace human agents?

Imaginations run wild as soon as you mention the word AI. Recent movies have contributed to the idea that AI can be dangerous and can put human jobs in jeopardy. While that may be the case in the future I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The problem with AI chatbots, in particular, is that they are good at fulfilling narrow intents but they are not very good at solving higher level problems.

It’s incorrect to look at live teams and AI chatbots as an either/or proposition. The best scenario in my view is to find creative ways to use chatbots to supercharge the abilities of human agents. One way to achieve this is to let the chatbots focus on menial repetitive tasks while humans can focus on solving more complex problems requiring nuance and emotional engagement currently lacking in AI technology.

Here are some ideas on how chatbots can assist existing employees working for single and multifamily builders:

  1. Use a chatbot on your website to assist visitors 24 hours a day. The chatbot can be used to help visitors find the information they are looking for like finding a home and subsequently hand them off to the appropriate person. The chat transcript is shared with the human agents which eliminate repetition and speeds up the process.
  2. Chatbots can be used to improve the engagement with existing clients. A chatbot can be perfect for managing maintenance or warranty requests without the necessity for phone calls. This can speed up the time it takes to service a request and in turn improve the customer satisfaction.
  3. Marketing campaign analytics. Use the sentiment score to determine if a marketing campaign is well received by customers. With traditional marketing analytics tools, you get raw numbers that don’t tell the full story. With sentiment analysis, you can measure the emotional response that clients experience when seeing a given marketing campaign.
  4. During the building phase, people can spend an enormous amount of time collecting information from existing projects. AI chatbots can be used to track subcontractors, safety, costs, purchasing, and documentation. Imagine how much time you can save field employees by allowing them to use natural language for their reporting instead of typing information on a mobile device in complex enterprise apps.

We are only seeing glimpses of the way AI chatbots can help employees working for single and multifamily companies. There are exciting times ahead!

Still, have some questions? Fill out our contact form or send us an email at contact@buildermind.com!

How to use sentiment analysis to build a better chatbot?

Sentiment analysis or opinion mining as it’s sometimes called can be a very powerful tool when creating a more engaging experience for your chatbot users. One of the biggest problems that we encounter when measuring satisfaction scores in chatbots is that users report frustration when communicating with a bot. The problem is that the chatbot doesn’t know that a user is frustrated and continues business as usual which amplifies the problem.

With sentiment analysis your chatbot can tailor the dialog based on the sentiment score calculated from the user input. This sentiment score can tell the bot if the user is having a positive, neutral or a negative experience. Here are some interesting ways that you can use this information to improve your chatbot:

  1. Suggest human handoff. Measure the sentiment score for each interaction and set a threshold score that will initiate a human handoff. For example, if the bot notices that the score is reduced with each interaction it can gently suggest something like the following: “I’m sorry I’m not doing a good job helping you today would you like me to transfer you to one of my human teammates?”
  2. Customer scoring. You can measure the sentiment score average for all conversation over a given time period. Based on this you can score customers and decide on a course of action. One example of this would be being able to contact a customer with a negative sentiment towards your message before they go to the Internet and write a bad review.
  3. Marketing campaign analytics. Use the sentiment score to determine if a marketing campaign is well received by customers. With traditional marketing analytics tools, you get raw numbers that don’t tell the full story. With sentiment analysis, you can measure the emotional response that clients experience when seeing a given marketing campaign.
  4. Identify brand ambassadors. The people with the highest sentiment scores are most likely to be your brand ambassadors. This can help you identify those individuals and help them be more successful as your brand ambassadors. For example, you can send special promotions to these individuals to further encourage them to represent your brand in the best light possible.

This is barely scratching the surface of what is possible with sentiment analysis.
Can you contribute any ideas on using sentiment analysis to improve your chatbot?

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3 reasons why 2020 will be a breakout year for chatbots!

I love watching a technological revolution unfold right in front of our eyes. My mind goes back to the early days of the Internet and how cool it felt to connect and share with people all over the world. Another example was the unveiling of the iPhone and the app revolution that followed in the years after. I can’t help but see parallels to what is currently happening with AI technology and more specifically conversational AI as seen in chatbots, speechbots, and digital assistants. I believe that 2018 will be a breakout year for this type of AI technology and here is why.

Accessibility and Ease of Use

With all previous technological revolutions there was a leap towards making technology less intimidating and easier to use. For example, America On-Line (AOL) showed people that you don’t have to be a computer programmer in order to go online, chat with people and send an email. Apple did the same thing with the iPhone, people young and old could quickly learn how to use powerful apps with a very intuitive touch UI. Conversational UI takes this to the next level. Chatbots allow people of all ages and technical abilities to interface powerful cloud computers by only using natural language. We are now seeing powerful conversational interfaces used on everything from toys to technology targeting the elderly and people with disabilities. Powerful digital assistants are now becoming the norm on cellphones, home speakers, remote controls and car infotainment systems. This trend is not stopping and I expect to see chatbots integrated into even more places like public spaces, wearables and clothing.

Conversational AI Technology

In the last couple of years we have seen an explosion of cloud technology that powers chatbots. Big players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are making significant investments in this arena in order to stake as much ground as possible. All of the above offer some version of speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) that can be used by third parties to develop powerful bots. Amazon already had the powerful LEX platform but just to show how serious it is about this space it released a slew of other AI services at their most recent ReInvent show in Las Vegas. I personally can’t wait to play around with their new transcription service. Facebook is not too far behind with Wit.ai and Google now owns the very powerful Dialogflow platform. In other words, there is plenty of powerful technologies that will allow developers like myself create the next generation of chatbots.

Another powerful driver is that there are many platforms like Chatfuel and MotionAI (now Hubspot) that allow non-programmers to create very engaging chatbots without writing code. In my opinion, this is a real game changer since it has never been as easy for non-technical people to create and deploy the powerful technology. These platforms are very intuitive and you can literally create a chatbot in minutes. I also think that in the next year we will start to see better bot marketplaces that will make it even easier to buy and deploy bots of all kinds.

Engagement

According to Grand View Research the global chatbot market is growing at a steady 24.3% per year and is projected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025. Another survey from Oracle found that 80% of marketing and sales executives either used or plan to use chatbots by 2020. There are many more examples indicating that people are warming to the idea of chatting with a bot as long as they get a quick resolution to a problem. Bots will allow companies to engage and service customers 24 hours per day for a much lower cost when compared to employing humans. A hybrid approach is also popular with many bots being designed to handoff the conversation to a human if needed.

Bots also have the benefit of operating in existing communications channels like Facebook Messenger, Skype, KIK, Telegram, Slack, and SMS. This is significant because you don’t have to change user behavior which in my opinion will lead to even faster adoption of chatbots.

Cheers to the chatbot revolution!