Over the last 20 years, countless companies have always struggled converting their website visitors, or ‘potential tenants’, into a good source of leads. However, over the last few years this struggle has accelerated, and the trend towards NOT being able to capture a lead at all, is very common.
What many letting agents are finding is that even though they have a phone hotline clearly visible on their website or a registration form, these methods of contact are diminishing rather than growing. Many potential tenants don’t want to pick up the phone, or are not in a position to call during working hours. Some letting agents do extend their calling hours, but this can be costly.
It stands to reason that a lot of website visitors, or potential tenants, are visiting out of hours, in the evenings or weekends, when the phones are not manned, and because many are looking for instant answers to their questions… filling out a lengthy form and waiting for a day to two for a response is just not going to cut it.
Salesforce State of Service Report (second edition)
One potential solution to these problems could be the addition of a chatbot to your website.
If implemented correctly a chatbot can:
|Be available 24 hours a day…7 days a week, so is working whilst you are not available.|
|Allow you to jump in on a chat in real time with a potential tenant. Although not necessary, it means you have the option to try and set up a real conversation.|
|Many visitors are used to chatbots and are happy to strike up an online interaction. A chatbot can be set up to help with many common questions regularly asked by tenants, or guide visitors to the right area of the website. This not only saves you time, but can keep visitors on your website longer, meaning the likelihood of them contacting you directly is increased.|
|Save you time by qualifying your leads or filtering out suitable tenants. By asking a set of automated questions, it makes it easy to determine if a website visitor is your ideal customer.|
|Help break down the resistance some people have in giving you their personal details. If a website visitor has a positive chatbot interaction and feels comfortable with the experience, they are more likely to contact you and pass over their details.|
|Build trust. Once a user has had a positive experience in using a chatbot they feel more vested in your company, and are more likely to strike up a real conversation.|
Overall a chatbot should be seen as an extension to your customer support team, and a bridge to a live conversation…if that is what you are after. All letting agents and property managers can benefit from having a chatbot, however the extent to which it is used is fully determined by your own specific requirements and goals.
According to The State of Service Report (third edition) the use of chatbots using AI technology that simulates voice or text-based conversations with humans – are perhaps the most visible, audible, and vocal example of AI in customer service.
Salesforce 3rd State of Service Report (third edition)
So what exactly is a chatbot?
A website chatbot is simply a piece of software that you can programme to carry out a set of actions automatically without the need of a human operator.
The secret behind any chatbot is to make sure it’s programmed correctly in the first place. Chatbots are only as good as the data they are built on. So, if the data is poorly sourced or biased, the results can be disastrous.
Six key Chatbot tips
|Don’t rush into the chatbot bandwagon. Really consider whether it will add real value to your website audience.|
|Ensure your chatbot is fully integrated with the wider customer journey to offer a personalised and helpful experience|
Salesforce 3rd State of Service Report (third edition)
|Do not pretend to be a human, but do humanise your questions and answers by adding your personality..|
In a study by CEB, transparency was ranked as the number one most important factor for consumers when it comes to brand service.
|Use the ame tone in your messages as you would in the rest of the business. Don’t get all formal if you run your business in less formal way.|
|Keep messages short and concise, and if more information is required, move the conversation over to phone or email, or have a human representative step in.|
|Using multiple choice questions help visitors quickly get to the right place. And when they do engage, their answers will give you valuable insight into their needs and motivations. Also, having predefined choices is easier for your visitors, because it takes less time and effort than writing an email or making a phone call.|
How to set up a chatbot on your website
Installing a chatbot is relatively straightforward. In most cases, it’s as simple as adding one or two lines of code to your website.
However, what is most important is working out how you want your chatbot to co-exist with the rest of your business processes. There is no point having a chatbot in isolation, if you then have to manually carry out a load of tasks like adding data to a CRM or email software platform or manually updating your calendar… you’re not saving yourself any time, and at the end of the day that’s one of the main benefits of a chatbot.
Determine what you want you chatbot to do. If it is to generate leads, think about the customer journey and what details you would like to capture and where you would like the details to be captured, and who should be alerted. The chatbot should let the customer know that everything is in hand and its being dealt with.
In a globalised world where the 9-5 open hours of business no longer apply, a chatbot can be a great asset to your property rental business, and once set up can be run reasonably inexpensively. However, for anyone considering adding in a chatbot to a website, it’s always important to think about the value it will give to potential customers, and what the end goal is.
Written by Kevin Williams
Co-Founder of digital marketing company Servon Design,