Why chatbots are the key to a better online ROI
How Do They Help?
Let’s acknowledge it: Real estate firms are often not exactly known for being at the forefront of technological advancements. It has been argued that real estate may be an industry with high inefficiencies, using around 1.3 million employees to sell around 5 million homes in the U.S. each year.
Key challenges busy real estate firms face include being able to respond in a timely manner to leads and queries of all kinds.
So practically speaking, how can a bot help your real estate firm?
#1. Respond to Text Messages
A bot can be programmed to respond to text messages, as well as messages received on programs such as Facebook Messenger. Holmes, a bot built by our team at Structurely, is able to respond to messages across a number of different programs, including Twitter, Facebook and text messages.
Practically speaking, bots such as these are able to respond at lightning-fast speeds, something which your average real estate agent is unable to do. This is a potentially powerful application — we all know that real estate agents should aim to respond in under five minutes to keep the lead, but these bots will respond almost instantly.
Here’s an example of what a conversation with Holmes might look like:
While a human agent might need to direct the prospect to a website or may be able to recommend a property they know of if they’re lucky, the bot is busy churning through the information provided in the background and can scan for and spit out possible matches very quickly.
Here’s another sample conversation, as shown by Inman:
“What’s the market like right now?” a lead texts an agent. “Well there is about 6 months of inventory today and a home like yours might stay on the market for around 30 days,” reads a lighting-fast response. Sample conversation between lead and Holmes. “
#2. Keep the Customer
We’re not saying a bot replaces the human touch — not at all. However, bots have their place in terms of their ability to provide that fast response which most customers expect these days anyway.
There are often reports of agents ignoring online leads, or getting back five hours later to text or phone messages. This can be very costly when statistics show us that seven out of ten buyers interview only one real estate agent. If you’re not responding but your competitors are, bye-bye business.
#3. Boost Efficiency
Even if you’re not using bots to directly message customers, they can certainly be of help to speed up the process for your agents. A bot can easily be scanning for matches based on a set of criteria, which it then serves up to your agent.
Bots can run much faster than a human operator looking through a search function, so at the very least, your firm could be using a bot to compile useful lists of matches.
Bots can also create a more efficient experience for real estate customers. Creed Smith developed the bot Find More Genius for his firm in the Denver, CO area. You can check out his video demo onVimeo here, but the idea is that it finds property matches based on the characteristics the buyer likes, such as qualities, price and location.
The buyer doesn’t have to sign-in several times to search either — they are able to save a property they like, create an account and the system will automatically send them properties which match. It goes beyond the simple search of bedroom, price and property type which most are still using to create a more comprehensive search experience for clients.
What Have Agents Found When Using Bots?
Bots are pretty new, but tests conducted using them have turned up some promising results. Inman wrote about an informal test they conducted recently, pitting Creed Smith’s Find More Genious against live human real estate brokers.
A different broker volunteered to go up against the bot every day. The purpose of the test was to identify who was better at predicting buyer preferences.
The result? The bot won on all three days, getting the top spot for buyer choice.
Food for thought? Well, as Inman points out in their article, what if your firm is the one which owns the bot, as is the case with Smith. This could open you up to new possibilities and advantages over competitors.
There is a widely believed school of thought which says that bots in their various incarnations are the way of the future, for real estate and other businesses.
The last few months have seen several big players opening up to the development of bots across different applications. For real estate, this offers the opportunity to provide customers with timely answers and hopefully enhance their experience with your firm.
What are your thoughts? Is a bot a good option for your real estate firm?