Man at table on computer

3 KPIs Your Bot Should Be Hitting

Making sure that your bot is performing at optimum levels is imperative. You want to make sure you are getting the most from your chatbot solution and that everything is working efficiently. When you are first working with a chatbot, it can be hard to evaluate if you are unsure what to look for. That’s why we’ve put together a simple list of KPIs your bot should be hitting. These points include: 

  • Greetings
  • Appointments
  • Handoffs

Greetings

Greetings are one of the very first KPIs you will want to look at. This number tells you how many people your bot has, you guessed it, greeted! It’s essential to get a good gauge on what is a typical amount of traffic for your community. One of the ways you can measure this is by setting a test period. Give your communities about 90 days to get into a consistent rhythm with the bot. Then you will have enough data and time to see what average numbers could be for the number of people using your bots. If you notice that your bot greetings are declining, it may be time to make some updates to your bot. You can change specific items such as bot placement, avatar, colors, and call-outs, which may be more likely to get users’ attention. 

Appointments

This is such a substantial number because it shows how many of those who contacted you through the bot is making an effort to visit your community. This will give you a better idea of how your bot is working. There are minor tweaks you may be able to make to convert at higher rates. If you notice that no or minimal appointments are being set, it may be time to evaluate your appointment settings. Take a look at how much time is being allotted between each appointment. If it’s more than 30 min, it may be time to make some adjustments. 

Handoffs

The amount of handoffs your bot distributes equates to the number of serious leads your property is seeing through your bot. This is when the bot hands the conversation off to a human, and the process of leasing begins. This is important because it shows the user journey process and how your leads are being taken care of from this point forward. One of the ways you can improve your handoffs would include evaluating your communication methods when it comes to the handoff process. You’ll want to make sure that your teams are highly engaged with prospects from this point forward. 

For your bot to be effective, you’ll want to check your KPIs consistently. Be sure you are looking at your metrics monthly and comparing your greetings, appointments, and handoffs every month. Keep a record of these numbers so that you can refer back to them and see how your communities are progressing. For more information on how you can make your bot more effective, check out our article on Ways To Make Your Bot Even Better

Why Online Reviews Matter To Renters

According to research from the United States Bureau of Statistics, 93 percent of consumers read online reviews regularly, 85 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 40 percent form an opinion after reading one to three reviews. 

When I was apartment shopping, I read 5 to 10 reviews on every apartment I was considering. 

Whether it was good or bad. 

Respage wrote an article called Why apartment Google reviews matter more than others and stated, “Google considers apartment reviews when determining the ranking of local organic search results. This implies that communities with positive apartment ratings get a higher ranking than communities with negative reviews. Another element Google considers is the number of apartment reviews, and those with the most reviews are rewarded by having their apartment ranks boosted.” 

Reviews give you insight into the property that might be hidden behind all the photoshop pictures on the website. 

When I was searching for an apartment, I would be more focused on how a property manager would respond rather than the problem itself. 

It allowed me to see how property managers handle problematic situations. 

While I understand Google reviews sway someone’s decision, here’s why I give apartment complexes the benefit of the doubt sometimes when they have a negative review. 

I once ran into a situation where I fell in love with a property online. However, the Google reviews were disappointing to read. There were tons of reviews complaining about the property, but I couldn’t shake my love for how the property looked. 

A few days later, I decided to visit the property to see it firsthand. 

When I met with one of the leasing agents, she explained how they recently acquired the property and have been trying to make up for all the turmoil the last management caused in the three weeks they owned the property. 

The leasing agent walked me through all the changes that were going to be made and the problems they were currently working on. 

The moral of the story is if you are having doubts about a property, it’s best to go to the property yourself and get firsthand experiences. 

Another tip! You can always bring some Google concerns up to the leasing agent and inquire about the issues mentioned.

When it comes to reading online reviews, my suggestion would be to search for the apartment complex on multiple platforms aside from Google.

While Google reviews hold a lot of weight regarding how people make decisions, other platforms such as Facebook and Apartment.com can have more authentic reviews. 

50 Conversational Leasing Stats You Need to Know in 2021

What is conversational leasing?

Conversational Leasing & Conversation Marketing work hand in hand. Refining the way of communicating with your prospects online. Leverage marketing automation to reduce the overall demand on your leasing staff to create meaningful touchpoints for your prospect inquiries that help convert your prospects when they are ready. Assisting them with their research and information-grabbing process by providing immediate engagement and access to the information they are looking for. Whenever they want and wherever they happen to inquire from.

BetterBot inserts your leasing agents into the conversations when and where it matters most while handling the menial tasks and unqualified prospects.

How can conversational leasing enhance your prospect’s leasing journey?

  1. On average, leasing teams leverage Conversation Leasing solutions see an average savings of 56.3 hours per month. (BetterBot)
  2. On average, communities that have marketing automation in place convert their ILS leads in 13 days versus the typical 45 days with standard marketing practices. (BetterBot)
  3. 49% saw improvements in their overall customer lifetime value when using a conversational sales solution. (Drift)
  4. A study showed that 9 out of 10 consumers would like the option to use messaging to contact a business (Twilio).
  5. Conversational marketing enables brands to communicate with existing customers and prospects in a way that’s more personalized and conversational, enabling the customer to go deeper than the traditional pushed offer that they are used to. Marry this with SMS/MMS for maximum reach and engagement (the SMS open rate is 98%, and 90% of messages are read within 3 seconds), and you have a uniquely powerful direct connection to your customers. (Forbes )

Conversational Leasing & Marketing Stats to prove how effective this can be for your communities:

6. Most customers (56%) expect to find what they’re looking for from a company in 3 clicks or less (Salesforce)

7. 81% of buyers don’t fill out forms when they encounter gated content (LinkedIn)

8. At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. (HubSpot)

9. 26% of customers were unhappy with the time delay after filling out contact forms (Whisbi)

10. By incorporating a quiz-like form or structure as a means to capture customer information has the potential to triple your conversion rate. (aumcore.com

11. Companies who are already automating lead management and conversational marketing witness a 10% increase in revenue after a 6-9 month period. (aumcore.com)

12. 36% feel they can’t get answers to simple questions (Drift)

13. 37% of sellers report that their buyers are frustrated by having to fill out repetitive online forms to get the resources and content they need. (Drift)

14. 36% believe their buyers are frustrated by a lack of digital self-service options available to them. (Drift)

15. 9 in 10 B2B sellers believe it is valuable to some degree to have a Conversational Sales solution in their sales process. And they’ve found that these solutions can enable success throughout the sales process. (Drift)

16. 53% of sellers saw improvements in overall revenue growth when using a conversational sales solution. (Drift)

17. 45% were able to learn more about their buyers in less time when using a conversational sales solution. (Drift)

18. 42% were able to accelerate revenue generation when using a conversational sales solution. (Drift)

19. 38% could book more qualified meetings when using a conversational sales solution. (Drift)

20. 52% of consumers are more likely to make repeat purchases if the company offers support via live chat (Kayako).

21. 79% of companies say that live chat has had positive results for customer loyalty, sales, and revenue (Kayako).

22. Conversations inside Facebook Messenger between companies and customers have a 30% better ROI than retargeting ads (Business Insider).

23. 54% of customers report companies need to transform how they engage with them. (Salesforce)

24. If you engage with a lead within five minutes of them indicating interest in your offer, you’re 100 times more likely to actually speak with them than if you wait even 30 minutes. The odds of qualifying that lead are also 21 times higher. (InsideSales)

25. 66% of consumers prefer to reach brands through messaging apps (Chief Marketer)

26. 45% of businesses have implemented conversational marketing as part of their marketing efforts (HubSpot)

27. Consumers who are frustrated with unresponsive brands on social or email have grown 5.7 times since 2019. (IBM)

28. Forty-one percent* of survey respondents say that they use conversational marketing to make a transaction or a purchase. About 7 out of 10* are using it for a quick response to their questions. Live chat is also one of the preferred ways that B2B consumers get in touch with organizations. (IBM)

How chat fits into the conversational leasing process: 

29. 80% of routine questions can be answered via chatbots (IBM).

30. 47% of consumers would be open to making a purchase completely from a chatbot (HubSpot).

31. 83% of consumers said they would be more loyal to a brand who offers a chatbot for tasks like making an appointment or handling customer service inquiries (Mobile Marketer).

32. 72% of people who have used chatbots find them to be helpful and informative (SUMO Heavy).

33. 40% of millennials say they interact with chatbots on a daily basis (Mobile Marketer).

34. Chatbots can reduce customer service costs by 30% (Chatbots Magazine)

35. 40% of millennials say they interact with chatbots on a daily basis (Mobile Marketer)

36. 40% of shoppers don’t care if they’re helped by an AI tool or a human, as long as their question gets answered. (HubSpot)

37. 35% of consumers want to see more companies using chatbots. (Opus Research)

38. 38% of consumers think brands should use chatbots for deals, coupons and promotions. (Uberall)

39. 80% of consumers who have engaged with a chatbot report it as a positive customer experience. (Uberall)

40. Nearly one-quarter (22%) of respondents said they already trust chatbot recommendations for product purchases. (Cognizant)

41. Business leaders claim chatbots have increased sales by 67% on average. (Forbes)

42. 64% of businesses believe that chatbots will allow them to deliver a more customized customer support experience. (Statista)

43. Chatbots are projected to save $0.70 per customer interaction (CNBC)

44. 68% use bots/live chat over forms or phone (Whisbi)

45. 57% of customers expected an immediate response from a chatbot, and 47% expected this from live chat. (Whisbi)

46. 80% of businesses are expected to have some form of chatbot automation instilled into their company by the end of the year. (aumcore.com)

47. 86% of online shoppers prefer proactive customer support, something that conversational marketing chatbots can offer immediately. (aumcore.com)

48. Over 300,000 messenger bots are active on Facebook (Social Media Today)

49. 86% of consumers prefer to use a chatbot than filling a form on a website (Drift)

50. 43% of sellers say they’re frustrated most by a lack of automation or AI to replace manual, repetitive processes. (Drift)

As you can see, conversational marketing is making a massive difference in the way businesses market their products. It is increasingly important to adopt these practices as processes evolve and grow. Reaching customers in new ways can be exciting but also daunting, so we are excited to be part of the solution. For more information on how BetterBot can help you with your conversational marketing processes, CLICK HERE

How Apartment Chatbots are Redefining Multifamily Customer Support

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: chatbots are the future of multifamily customer support. In today’s world, traditional customer support methods just can’t keep up with the 24/7, 365 needs of consumers. But chatbots can, and they can do a lot more than simply showing off floorplans. Here’s how multifamily chatbots like BetterBot are redefining customer support for today’s property management teams.

Always-on service

58% of all of our customer’s traffic occurs after hours – that’s pretty significant. People today expect great customer service on their own time, whether that’s 8 am or 8 pm. By limiting your available hours to regular business hours, you’re greatly reducing your capacity to connect with these prospective leads. What’s more, we’ve found that, 20 years ago, 50% of prospective renter leads go unanswered by the property – and that stat is surprisingly the same today. What we hear through this stat is that property management teams are understaffed and don’t have enough time in the day to respond to each and every lead themself. Unfortunately, this is the case with most property teams, and likely won’t change. It’s a big problem, but fortunately it’s one that chatbots can help solve. 

When you start using chatbot tech, you’re essentially creating a customer service rep that’s always on and available. People looking for information on your property or wanting to set up an appointment can do so whenever they’re free. All you have to do then, is follow up!

A wealth of resources in the palm of your hand

Today’s chatbots can do so many things, and are fully customizable based on your team’s (and customers’) unique needs. Want to show off your property’s amenities? Check. Really excited to let people schedule appointments online? It’s simple to do with a bot. From giving prospects access to 3D tours to allowing current residents to request and schedule maintenance, what your bot can do is only limited by your imagination. Check out our BetterBot Demo to see a sampling of what your bot could do.

Guided conversation makes it easy to get leads

There are several different types of chatbot solutions available on the market today, and not all are created equal. From bots that use AI-based natural language processing to mimic human speech, to those leveraging pre-written conversations to some that use a mixture of both, there is a lot of variety in terms of the bots your property management team could potentially use. And through our trials, we’ve found that guided-conversation bots (those that use pre-written, branched dialogues) outperform other bots by a wide margin. 

When it comes to getting leads, you want to create a naturally-flowing conversation with your prospect. Lead gating doesn’t work, but by engaging customers in conversation with your chatbot, you can naturally lead your prospect where you want them to go, whether that’s to an information form, or to book an appointment. 

Better access and time saved

One of the awesome things about having a chatbot is that it allows customers to reach you across a variety of channels – not just on your property’s website. Our chatbot can be integrated wherever you have a digital presence, which means that people can interact with your bot and reach you on any social media platform. If you’ve built up a great digital marketing strategy, this means that people who learn about your property from Facebook, for example, can go to your Facebook page and immediately get answers to any questions they have without having to navigate to your website. 

Now more than ever, people value time and accessibility, and they want to be able to find you on the platforms they’re already on. The easier you can make it to engage with your customer service team, the more likely you’ll be able to convert those leads to new renters. 

Where the future of multifamily chatbots is headed

So where will we see chatbots go in the future? Ultimately, we think chatbots will become the primary marketing channel for people to connect with properties. As the multifamily space continues to integrate social media into their strategy, ensuring bots have an omnichannel presence across these platforms will be key in boosting engagement and generating new leads. 

Ready to build a bot for your property management team? BetterBot can help. And when you’re done, don’t forget to check out our guide to making your bot the best it can be

7 Things Our Apartment Chatbot Learned From Greeting Over 50 Million Renters

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!

BetterBot Greets It’s 50 Millionth Renter

BetterBot continues to be Multifamily’s most adopted digital leasing solution

Atlanta, GA, April 14, 2021 – BetterBot, an industry leader in Multifamily chatbot software, is successfully building the future of renting. Through its proprietary conversational leasing solution, the company is creating new opportunities for property management teams to engage with both prospective and current renters through self-guided VR apartment tours, live-video, phone appointments, and more. In Q1 of 2021, BetterBot achieved a new milestone, greeting its 50 millionth renter through its omnichannel chatbot software.

Underscoring this achievement is the internal growth BetterBot has experienced over the past two years. Starting from a small team of 2, the company has blossomed into a team of over 40 dedicated builders, designers, and customer support enthusiasts. “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,” said COO and Co-Founder, Robert Turnbull. “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.” 

Since its inception in 2018 by co-founders Zlatko Bogoevski and Robert Turnbull, BetterBot continues to go from strength to strength. By focusing on cultivating meaningful interactions between renters and property management teams, BetterBot differentiates itself from other chatbot software. 

Today, BetterBot remains the most adopted conversational leasing solution in the Multifamily space, serving thousands of apartment communities and their respective management teams. In 2020 alone, BetterBot has seen conversion rates above industry standards, with over 10% of all conversations starting with BetterBot converting to a viable prospect or scheduled appointment. Answering over 4 million apartment specific questions and generating over a quarter of a million renter leads, resulting in almost 1 million hours saved for Leasing Teams across the country.

About BetterBot

Today’s renters want control over their leasing process. People want to be able to access information wherever, whenever, and most leasing teams simply can’t keep up. Enter BetterBot, Multifamily’s most adopted omnichannel digital leasing solution. BetterBot helps provide renters the information they want 24/7/365, on the digital platforms they’re already on. Using the most technologically advanced software, BetterBot showcases floor plans, hosts virtual tours, and explains specials and amenities while driving prospective renters to schedule in-person, self-guided, live-video and phone appointments. BetterBot is the round-the-clock leasing assistant of choice, helping to free up valuable time so leasing teams can do what they do best – being human. 

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3 Ways BetterBot Can Help You Convert More Leads

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: 

  • Company/Property Branding
  • Amenities 
  • Appointments
  • Special Protocols
  • Availability
  • Brochures
  • Floorplans
  • Gallery
  • Maps
  • Languages 
  • Resident Portal Access
  • Specials
  • Virtual Tours

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! 

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

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!

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. 


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