It’s 2018, and chatbots have now truly evolved to now reach almost every aspect of our lives
Right from Facebook Messenger, to Skype to phones – we talk and interact with them. Some assist us in planning our trips while some crack some jokes. When it comes to chatbots in real estate, they have revolutionized the way we buy, sell or rent properties by turning long static forms into an interactive experience.
Back in 2016, big tech players like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, launched their own bots and chatbot platforms. Ever since then, AI-based applications started to boom, and many interesting bot concepts started to take shape. Like with any other new technology, in the beginning, everyone just wants to explore how to use this “AI engine” to create a bot, but as the AI infrastructure keeps improving at such a rapid rate, it is clear that AI will surely help people in their everyday lives and make businesses run more efficiently & enhance their customer service. However, the key here is to continue engaging with customers particularly beyond normal hours of operation & to address questions that don’t really need human input.
With bots being deployed across a plethora of industries such as healthcare, e-commerce, retail or hospitality have made a significant impact in terms of ROI and customer engagement. Bots are well and truly poised to be helpful in the world of real estate as well. Be it a real estate agent or a customer, chatbots in real estate prove to be of assistance to both when it comes to saving time, money and additional resources.
When it comes to assisting a visitor who could be a potential lead for you, here’s how a chatbot can turn a potential lead from lukewarm to hot.
Let us assume a visitor is looking to move into a new place or a potential seller is looking to sell their apartment. In both the scenarios, both parties need quick answers, however, when it comes to a real estate agent or a broker or a developer that is taking care of new and old listings, addressing their own sales and marketing goals, and managing past clients — it is quite difficult for them to take time out and cater to the requirements of a random visitor on their website.
Investing time out to ascertain the overall seriousness of the lead from scratch is pretty time-consuming, to say the least. However, it is quite evident that to be successful in real estate, you need to capture as many leads as possible to make sure that you have a healthy pipeline in place from time to time.
Given that majority of buyers and sellers are starting their journeys online, it is prudent to deploy custom chatbots in real estate that assist them in building their sales funnel.
In today’s time of digitisation and online presence of businesses, most of the customers are converted from leads online. In such a scenario, letting all that online traffic go is something one cannot afford to do. Intelligent chatbots in real estate help you tap into that traffic in order to collect and convert leads into customers.
We all know, in any business, lead generation is the most important and yet the most daunting task. Important, because that is how you come across people who are interested and willing to buy your product. Daunting, because you cannot do this without facing rejections & facing rejections results in a lot of your time being taken up, without any success in getting prospective customers. This leads to frustration and wastage of time.
In the real estate industry, lead generation becomes all the more difficult because of the complexity of the industry.
Properties are not something you can pack into your bags and go door-to-door showcasing them to the people.
A lot of nitty-gritty goes into the process of lead generation solely and it also takes time to figure out what the real estate brokers or agents have to offer & what the customer is looking for. Elucidated below are 9 reasons why chatbots in real estate tend to guarantee success –
1. Real-time Enquiry
When a user lands on your website, they can immediately get their queries answered by the chatbots. They do not have to wait for assistance from a human agent in order to seek answers about the property they are interested in.
2. Available 24×7
As real estate agents have time constraints like meeting deadlines, shift timings, it is not possible for them to remain available to the user throughout the day. With chatbots in real estate being available round the clock, 365 days a year – your customer’s queries can be addressed even outside of operational hours.
3. User Specific
Not everyone is looking for the same type of apartment or property type. Chatbots in real estate are the key element here in providing the customer exactly what they are looking for by probing the visitor with a series of questions and offering relevant information in an interactive manner. This is in stark contrast to traditional methods of collecting information via lengthy forms which in turn, keeps the user engaged till the end.
4. Better Engagement
Earlier we used to have physical copies of forms given out to the people to capture the type of product they are interested in. But, truth be told, most of those forms ended up in the trashcan. They were slowly replaced by online forms, which proved to be better than their predecessors, but at the end of the day, they were still forms that required a lot of input from the customer’s side.
Forms are less interactive and are not much effective when it comes to holding the attention of the customer. Even if a lead fills out the form, they are just providing you information but are not getting any, which they are looking for. With chatbots in real estate, customers can engage in real-time basis, responding to their queries and at the same time, collecting information about their preferences.
5. Better Time Management
The biggest plus of any robot is saving ample amount of time. Chatbots are no different. As a realtor, you will not be wasting your time in fruitless queries. You and your sales team will be dealing with a much narrower, filtered & pre-qualified lead base which will save you time and effort. Chatbots work at the grassroot level, by interacting with each potential lead in a personalized manner save the collected information to a database.
As a realtor, you can access the database and have all the information about what the customer wants, prior to making that first call. This way, you’re only concerned with closing the deal and not spending time prospecting or answering FAQs.
6. Automate your follow-up process
As a realtor, you have a lot on your plate other than following up on people who are yet to be customers. Chatbots can be very easily utilised to follow up on your leads via the medium they choose. Whether they want to be contacted via email or text message for more information or would directly prefer talking to the realtor, is all asked to the user.
A text message or an email will then be sent to the prospect automatically (based on what you have fed in the system), or if you would prefer to take it from there manually, then that too, is possible.
7. History of Interaction
Imagine the amount of paperwork it would have taken had you documented each and every reply of each and every lead you have interacted with. Unimaginable, right? Chatbots help you out here by keeping record of all the conversations till date. Anytime you need to look up what the customer had said, you can just refer the logs stored in the system.
This way, trends can be identified between customer and bot interactions. If you want to find out if there’s a particular type of property, belonging to a particular category (area wise, budget wise etc.) garnering a lot of interest, you can do so easily using all the data stacked up in your logs.
8. Schedule Property Viewings
Once the prospect is deeper into the sales funnel, the bot can schedule a home tour and in a way, take care of introducing the client and the real estate agent. At this point, the agents or sales team can take over the reigns.
9. 360 Degree Virtual Tours
With prospects being too busy to see the property in person, chatbots in real estate can give interested prospects a quick virtual tour through the bot itself. This gives them a fair idea of what the property would look like before even scheduling a site visit.
While the above covers the salient features, there are more benefits of chatbots in real estate as covered below –
- Cross platform – Not only your website, but various online platforms or channels of your choice like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype can support chatbots.
- Additional functionality – Apart from the information gathered on screen, chatbots also help you get additional information like the location from where the client contacted you (through IP-based information), from which page the bot was invoked and other similar ads the client has surfed through, etc.
- Language no bar – Chatbots can communicate with your targeted audience in their language, thus further personalizing the customer’s experience.
- Direct database entry & integration with CRM – Data handling becomes so much easier with bots. Chatbots in real estate collect information and feed it directly to the database or CRM, without needing your assistance.
At Maruti Techlabs, we have worked with leading developers and property aggregators in Real Estate and developed bespoke AI based chatbot solutions that have assisted our clients in generating pre-qualified leads for their sales team, while also addressing FAQs and customer support across the smorgasbord of buy/sell/rent scenarios, at scale.
The widespread adoption and advent of bots over the last two years along with the participation of tech behemoths are major indications that conversational AI is no longer just a fad, but well and truly here to stay. Being in real estate, it would be prudent to consider bot-o-mating your sales and customer service process.
About the Author
Mitul Makadia is Founder of Maruti Techlabs and a true technophile. With his industry experience, he has rapidly developed Maruti Techlabs in specialized services like Chatbot Development, Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. Makadia has considerable expertise in Chatbot Development and NLP.