Chatbots & Multifamily

Do you use chatbots to provide prospective residents with information about your property or specific units? Here are some reasons you might want to.
Jessica Fiur

Chatbots seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. And not just Alexa, but those helpful “people” who IM you on every site to help with customer service.

These are certainly not new. Back in the Stone Age when I was in college and iPods were gaining popularity, Joe Millionaire was winning over our hearts, and we were constantly perfecting our away messages on AIM, there was a chatbot called Smarterchild that we all talked to. Of course, we would just curse at it and laugh hysterically at it’s “offended” response. College was a wild time.

But now chatbots are getting smarter, or at least more responsive. And people are happily using them. We’re heading for Westworld-level customer service robots, people! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. “These violent delights have free-return-policy ends.” Or something. I don’t know, I’m still a few episodes behind.

Anyway, according to a study on Convince & Convert, “as of 2018, 15 percent of American adults say they have used a chatbot to interact with a company in the prior 12 months.”

Yup, this apartment is pet friendly. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you today. Hasta la vista, baby.

And according to Ideal.com, 35 percent of people who use chatbots expect to get detailed responses to inquiries. Also, they found that 64 percent of people believe the top benefit of them is to get 24-hour service, and that 55 percent of people believe the top benefit is getting an instant response.

Apartment Aides

All these things seem like they would be ideal for apartment community websites. Do you use chatbots to provide prospective residents with information about your property or specific units?

These chatbots can be programmed with specific keywords to answer questions about the community, which could be extremely useful for your leasing agents. This would free up their time, and when they talked to their prospects, the prospective renters would then have basic information about the property.

Uncanny Valley

Though there are many benefits to chatbots in multifamily marketing, there are of course still some downsides. Some people might not yet know how to interact with these chatbots to get the right information out of them. That could end up being extremely frustrating for them, and could end up losing you a lead.

Also, and maybe it’s just me, but there always seems to be something off about talking with a chatbot. It’s not human, but it can answer seemingly random questions. Do you have to thank them? I know, I know, they’re robots, so no, right? If you talk to a different bot later, will you get different answers? And will the original bot get jealous? These things keep me up at night.

But, seriously, sometimes people do want to talk to an actual human. If your site offers chatbots, it might be beneficial to also offer that option. Then potential residents can get information in the way that makes them the most comfortable. And, who knows. In the near future, the chatbots might become so sophisticated that people won’t even be able to tell they’re talking to robots, and then the issue might become moot. Actually, maybe that time is already here. Maybe even the writer of this blog is a robot. Talk about a twist ending!

Do you use chatbots on your apartment websites? If so, what have you liked or disliked about them? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur.