As technological advancements continue to accelerate across different industries, real estate agencies must consider which solutions are suitable for their professional needs. This is where the chatbot comes into play, proving to be an increasingly popular tech solution.
Successful American leadership entrepreneur Christina Milian once said that chatbots are the future of engagement between fans and brands. But can this use of AI have a positive impact on all business types?
In the world of real estate, we’ve seen the significant impact that chatbots can make. There’s no doubt that AI chatbots have a place within the industry at an overall business level. Take for example leading Australian agency Rental Heroes, which now supports more than 2,500 property managers and 200,000 tenants across Australia and New Zealand.
Rental Heroes’ chatbot ‘Alex’ has enabled the organisation to grow, exceed client expectations and stay ahead of its competitors. Their fully equipped digital self-service program responds efficiently and offers 24/7 support. The chatbot program can provide detailed answers to commonly asked questions conversationally to ensure tenants receive answers quickly – and pressure is alleviated from property management teams.
There are many cases like this example where a chatbot has played a significantly positive role in business. From a business sense, investing in AI is a no-brainer. But what about chatbot marketing? Does it match up?
In its simplest form, chatbot marketing is the process of using AI to promote and sell products and services to help generate leads, improve response time, and help increase sales. It can assist in segmenting traffic, saving on resources and increasing engagement and open rates of your marketing material.
Despite these benefits, it is also important to ascertain whether your business needs a chatbot and if it can provide the right solution for your needs. It is important to remember that there are alternative marketing options readily available.
In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a chatbot for marketing to help determine if it answers your needs.
Three Benefits of Using Chatbot Marketing for Your Real Estate Website
The real estate industry isn’t just built on building connections with people, it’s also about strong marketing campaigns and concepts. In this section, we discuss the advantages of using chatbot marketing, and how it can help your agency improve efficiency and grow into the future.
1. Chatbots can Elevate the Customer Experience
It’s no secret that real estate agents and property managers can struggle to maintain a work-life balance. The workload is heavy and agents must be ready to respond to urgent tenant requirements, late-afternoon and evening meetings, and urgent sales contracts.
With so much work and only a certain number of hours in the day, industry leaders must look outside the norm to find a solution to minimise impacts on staff, while ensuring buyers, sellers and vendors continue to receive a great customer experience.
This is where chatbots can help. The technology can respond to product and service inquiries in real-time and can be programmed to respond around the clock, allowing you to generate marketing leads and boost customer service even when you are offline.
There are a number of ways that a chatbot can generate more sales and boost customer rapport. They can provide fast responses to inquiries and save you costs on marketing analysts and after-hours customer support staff.
Importantly, chatbots can widen your net and improve engagement. Imagine this: a potential buyer jumps onto your website after hours and is browsing properties that are on the market. A chatbot can initiate a conversation with the web user and find out what their preferences are and promote new marketing campaigns – all while you’re at home enjoying the evening with your family or friends.
2. Chatbots Boost Productivity and Performances
No matter how hard a person works, or how committed they are to their job, there is always the possibility of distraction. It’s human nature. But, what if you had a way to field basic inquiries and handle repetitive tasks without the risk of human error?
Chatbots are super-focused and unable to be distracted, making AI technology ideal for mundane, yet important, jobs. There are a number of ways that chatbots can improve productivity and performance in the workplace to help streamline the workflow for both your marketing team and your real estate agents.
- Efficiency – Chatbots can streamline and standardise processes to ensure your staff remain on track and focused on the bigger picture.
- Satisfaction – With an ability to process natural language, chatbots are proven to have the capability to solve up to 80 per cent of inquiries. They are speedy, communicate well and provide an almost instant response. The result? Happy customers.
- Helping hand – Managing open home times and dates, as well as auctions, marketing meetings, and meetings with sellers and buyers can be time-consuming, and tricky. Chatbots can manage your schedule and book appointments on your behalf to ensure you are productive with your time.
3. Chatbots Increase Website Engagement
According to Google research, it takes only 0.05 seconds for people to form an opinion about a website. Impactful and fast interaction is vital to improve bounce rates and engagement. In the world of property, website engagement has a direct correlation with income. A website plays an integral role in the success of any real estate agency.
Today, the majority of people prefer to browse property online and even feel comfortable securing viewing times and appointments without having to pick up the phone. Of course, few agencies can afford to invest in full-time staff to monitor and maintain a website 24/7.
Chatbots can provide personalised product or service recommendations to customers browsing the website. For example, a chatbot can help a viewer filter out certain properties offered by the real estate agency according to their preferences, such as price, location and property type. This can improve website engagement and increase conversions.
Furthermore, digital technology can also personalise experiences (chatbots can even identify a user’s language preference and respond in that same language!) and provide relevant content and suggestions based on the user’s browsing history and preferences.
Three Drawbacks of Using a Chatbot to Market Your Real Estate Website
Of course, there are also a number of disadvantages to using a chatbot. Here we discuss the reasons why a real estate agency might forgo a chatbot for its website.
1. Chatbot Interactions are Not Emotive or Empathetic
As writer and educator Dale Carnegie once said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”
Purchasing property is a highly emotive and personal experience. After all, the buyer is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars – sometimes millions – into their future home. And while chatbots are efficient, responsive and able to provide personalised recommendations based on data, it can be difficult to have more complex discussions or interactions with them.
Yes, your chatbot lacks empathy, and that’s a problem for marketing and customer care teams who work hard to provide a positive customer experience and build a positive brand perception.
Consider this: a buyer or seller is browsing your website and has a challenging question or concern. Chances are a chatbot won’t have the capabilities to address these issues, leaving the customers frustrated and mistakenly thinking your business model does not take a customer-first approach.
2. Chatbots Can Have a High Potential for Misunderstandings
Although the birth of chatbots dates back to the 1960s, this AI technology has risen to prominence only in the past decade. In other words, the technology is still relatively young.
Developmental challenges in the face of new technology are a given. In regard to chatbots, there are two issues of particular importance.
The first is the technology’s ability or lack thereof to engage. Designed to follow defined scripts, a chatbot can not respond to commands outside of its limits. Unfortunately, this can result in repetitive answers that don’t address the customer’s question.
Secondly, chatbots lack user attention. While they can understand and respond to direct communication, a chatbot is unable to learn or develop without technical human interference. This means that they can dish out incorrect information or responses that can be misunderstood.
It is worth noting that chatbots also have access to a limited repertoire of words and understanding.
3. Chatbots Require Ongoing and Careful Maintenance
Technology moves and changes fast. Take your mobile phone for example – it is regularly reminding you to download updates to ensure optimisation and improved functionality.
Chatbots are the same; in order to work correctly and efficiently, they require ongoing maintenance and updates.
An appropriate maintenance schedule must be factored into your budget from the start. This will also dictate the type of chatbot you can install, and help to produce a timeline for required maintenance and program strategy.
There are a number of tasks involved in maintaining and optimising a chatbot:
- Promotion – This includes the launch campaign, consumer education and continual communication with users about new and updated features.
- Knowledge – Following its launch, it will become evident what extra information and question-and-answer capabilities your chatbot will need to communicate well with your buyers, sellers and vendors.
- Access – Generally a chatbot is launched on a website first, and then added to other systems such as Facebook and Messenger at a later date.
- Monitoring – This includes user interaction, data collection and identifying and correcting glitches.
- Tech updates – You need to be aware of new features, tools and technologies to ensure your chatbot is competitive and user-friendly.
Without ongoing maintenance, chatbots can easily become outdated, impacting their performance and functionality.
Technological advancements most certainly have their place. AI systems, in particular chatbots, can help elevate your marketing campaigns and results. Of course, it comes with a price.
Ultimately whether or not your real estate agency should install a chatbot will depend on different factors, such as your current stage of growth, your budget and the customer experience you wish to provide (human or AI). Talking to a content and marketing professional is one way to break down and highlight your agency’s needs.
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