Five Reasons Why You Need a Virtual Assistant (on Your Multifamily Website)
We’re often asked, “What is the best way to handle frequently asked leasing questions at the property level?” These tend to be repetitive questions about unit availability, pricing, floor plans, and amenities, that can bog down your property management staff. And while there are many ways to handle these types of inquiries – via onsite leasing agents, call centers, live chat – here are five reasons why you should consider a virtual assistant, or bot, on your multifamily website.
#1. Live chat doesn’t work for multifamily
While live chat has been successful for many B2C companies, one study found that only 2% of people clicked on the live chat option when on a property website (Source: BetterBot). With live chat, there are also issues of defection (people disengaging after two interactions or less), human response time (average of 76 seconds), and availability of knowledgeable staff. Virtual assistants, or bots, solve most of these problems by providing an additional and alternative “communication medium” for prospects to get answers in an instant. They streamline a company’s ability to provide consistent, friendly customer service and increase sales.
Lastly, according to the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Residence Preferences Report, almost 50% of multifamily prospects find bots helpful, further justifying having a bot in your stack.
#2. A virtual assistant will save you time and money
Property managers and onsite leasing agents simply can’t keep up with the volume of inquiries coming in through calls and form-fills. A virtual assistant saves the front-office time by answering prospects’ questions about floor plan availability, amenities, and pricing, while still generating leads. In addition, bots can also schedule appointments and provide virtual property tours. Tours can be easily embedded from platforms like Matterport, Helix 360, Zillow, YouTube, and Vimeo. Furthermore, stay-at-home orders during the pandemic have made virtual tours an even more attractive option for prospective renters.
Onsite leasing agents and call centers are also expensive. A virtual assistant costs between $100-300 per month (per location), while handling the same volume of tasks at nearly 1/6th of the time and for less than 1/10th of the cost (Source: BetterBot).
#3. A virtual assistant is fast and effective
Virtual assistants have an average response time of less than 2 seconds, compared to the human response time of 76 seconds. In a world where consumers expect immediacy, a difference of 74 seconds can feel like an eternity.
Bots are also extremely effective, answering up to 80% of a prospect’s questions. The key is to find a good bot that doesn’t get easily confused. Bots using Guided Conversation Methodology, rather than Natural Language Processing (NLP), perform better. Relying solely on NLP must factor for thousands of intents causing a bot failure rate of about 35%. The guided conversation method uses circular directed logic to serve up answers that always funnel towards booking an appointment instead of a basic answer tree (no decision tree dead ends).
By the numbers…in a recent data study, G5’s virtual assistant, “G5 Bot”, greeted 3,000 prospects in an average month for a single location. In that time, it had 400 conversations, answered 1,100 questions, delivered 25 leads, and booked 12 appointments that resulted in 11 tours (a 92% show rate). Applying the industry standard tour-to-lease conversion of 35%, this resulted in 3.8 additional leases per month. The numbers don’t lie. Bots work.
#4. Virtual assistants work 24/7/365
Virtual assistants never need a day off. They work 24/7/365, so you will never miss a moment to engage with prospects. You will generate additional leads by providing your prospects with an alternative way to get immediate answers.
Furthermore, leasing agents are often very busy. They aren’t sitting around waiting for a prospect to chat with them. A virtual assistant is always available, offering a fast and intuitive interface that requires little-to-no typing and can be used anytime, anywhere, on any device.
#5. Virtual assistants can live anywhere on the internet
And, you know what else is pretty darn cool? Virtual assistants can live anywhere on the internet, including on social media. This allows you to potentially grab prospects before they even get to your website. Imagine having a leasing conversation with someone while they are scrolling through their Facebook feed? Meeting prospects where they are online is key to generating more leads.
Here are just a few examples of where a virtual assistant, or bot, can live on the internet:
- Social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube
- Listing and review sites: Google My Business, Yelp, and Craigslist
- Email and text message: Email signatures and SMS/text
Need more proof?
Data collected from March to April 2020, revealed exceptional results with a strong increase in engagement, especially during the pandemic. In fact, 37% more questions were answered, 93% more virtual tours were conducted, 32.4% more leads were generated, and almost 12% more onsite tours were scheduled, month over month.
With finite resources at the property level, the adoption of no-touch technology due to COVID-19, and consumers’ expectation of immediacy online, all signs point to adding a virtual assistant or bot to your multifamily website. They offer an exceptional experience, on both mobile and desktop, that’s fast, effective, and “always on.” Add in the time and cost savings and bots are a win-win for everyone.