Why Live Chat Doesn’t Work in Multifamily

For three years I worked for the largest live chat company in the world, Liveperson. They service more than 60% of all business-to-consumer live chats on their platform across the planet. They’re good at it, they know what they’re doing, and it works very well in most industries.

But it didn’t work in Multifamily.

It wasn’t the software. Liveperson literally started live chat 25 years ago and continues to be the leader in the live chat space.  It wasn’t the deployment.  It was easy to get the software hooked up and even easier to train folks to use it.  It wasn’t the people. Many management companies bought into the concept and we had great chat agents manning the chats for properties.

So why didn’t it work?  Simply put, live chat is the square peg in a round hole that is Multifamily. Allow me to explain:

Clicks. No matter how we presented the live chat button, only about about 2% of people on a property website actually clicked on the live chat option.  We never could entirely figure out why, but we just began to accept that prospective renters were not interested in live chatting.

Defections. Of those folks that did click on the live chat button, a full 50% stopped using it after only 2 exchanges or less. We eventually stopped asking for any kind of personally identifying information at the start such as the prospective renter’s name, email or phone, but that only reduced the defection to 40%.

Time Gap. After waiting an average of 1 minute, 45 seconds to connect to an agent, the average time in between a prospect asking a question and a chat agent responding was 76 seconds.  That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you ask a question and stare at a screen for a minute and 16 seconds, that feels like an eternity.  

Available People. Let’s face it, leasing agents at properties have a hundred things they’re working on at any given time. They don’t have the time nor the proper infrastructure to stop whatever they are doing to start and maintain a chat conversation which lasts an average of 8 minutes. And having a call/chat center respond to these chats is not only very expensive, they simply aren’t as knowledgeable about the property in question.

So what does work? Bots work! They solve most of the problems listed above as long as they are the right kind of bot (more on the “right” kind in a different article).  Just look at this data provided by BetterBot below:

Clicks – Avatars get an average 14% click rate on a property website which is 7x that of chat. And, some bots can be deployed on more than just a website such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, etc., significantly increasing clicks and conversations.

Defections – If a bot doesn’t ask for personal information up front, it will likely only get 10% of prospects x out before using. Most of those are people who are just wondering what this avatar is.

Time Gap – Unlike live chat’s average in-between time of 76 seconds, a typical bot’s response time is 1 second. And instead of 8 minutes for live chat, bots usually get through a conversation in 90 seconds. Helps explain why such little defection.

Available People – Don’t need them! A good bot can answer 80% of the questions a consumer has and schedule appointments, etc.  Blending or “hot transferring” bots to humans is a terrible idea as well. Here’s a great article that explains why.Bottom line, good bots work infinitely better than live chat in the Multifamily space. To see the difference, put live chat on 3 properties and a bot on 3 similar properties and after 60 days, you’ll see a dramatic difference in usage, questions answered, and appointments scheduled.  And best of all, bots are not only much less expensive, they work 24/7/365.

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