Replacing Outdated IVRs In Real Estate With Conversational AI
Like most businesses today, real estate has become a round-the-clock endeavor. When a prospective customer is looking to rent or purchase a property, they don’t confine their search and discovery process to traditional business hours. Often, prospects will search the web for relevant real estate practices in their area at all hours of the day, scrolling through potential properties and looking for answers to their most pressing questions late into the night and on weekends.
This presents a unique challenge for real estate companies, as they must be available 24/7 lest they lose prospective business to their competitors. But, what if we told you there was a way to answer their questions no matter the time of day, without the need to invest in additional staffing?
At the risk of sounding like Morpheus, this is indeed the future of the real estate industry, where intelligent software can step in to generate leads no matter the day or time.
What is an IVR System?
An IVR or Interactive Voice Response system is a telephony solution that allows businesses to interact with callers using digit or voice-enabled prompts. You know, the classic “For opening hours, press 1, for Customer Service, press 2, to speak to a representative, press 3 or hold the line.”
IVR systems are popularly used by businesses of all kinds to handle incoming calls, solve customer issues, and direct callers to the correct individual or department they are trying to reach.
The Shortcomings of Traditional IVR Systems in Real Estate
Real estate companies typically use IVR systems to answer calls from clients and prospects, provide basic information such as opening hours, and redirect callers to leasing agents and sales teams. IVR systems have been widely adopted and used for many years to ensure clients are provided with the information they require and can have simple tasks solved.
While the use of IVR technology is widespread among real estate businesses, these systems come with a number of limitations that hamper the customer experience, including:
Lack of flexibility
Once pre-recorded questions and responses have been set, the system cannot adapt to any requests outside of what has been programmed. This leads to frustration for prospects and customers who are looking for a quick answer to their query, resulting in a redirect to a live agent whose time could be better spent on more high-value queries.
Difficult to implement
Many real estate businesses make the mistake of thinking it’s easy to set up an IVR system, which technically, it is. But, the tricky part is designing a good system that meets the needs of your callers, as one that is poorly designed will frustrate clients and ultimately lead to more busywork for your agents.
Poor call containment
Call containment is a metric that measures how effective your IVR system is. A higher containment rate means fewer calls are dropped and fewer people on hold. Unfortunately, outdated IVR systems are often the cause of a poor call containment rate as users will not want to stay on the line and will hang up or attempt to bypass the system, creating a larger customer queue.
High transfer rate
Ideally, your IVR system would answer all of your callers’ questions and save your agents time. However, this is not the case with most systems as many callers simply run through the options until they can speak to a representative, despite the fact that many of these queries could be easily resolved without the need for human intervention.
At the end of the day, traditional IVR systems contain one major flaw: people just don’t like them. According to a study by The Conversation and Boston University, only 10% of respondents were satisfied with their experience of IVR systems, with approximately 35% finding the systems difficult to use. Only a paltry 3% of study participants actually enjoyed using the IVR service.
Given these somewhat discouraging numbers, it’s easy to see how outdated IVR systems can ultimately hurt real estate lead generation efforts. To address this, real estate companies must put customer experience first, starting with doing away with frustrating IVR systems in favor of adaptive conversational AI.
What Is Adaptive Conversational AI for Real Estate?
Conversational AI utilizes advanced automation, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing (NLP) to make machines capable of understanding and responding to human language, whether through speech or text. It can be conceptualized as the brain behind the chat window—like a human brain, it has the flexibility, processing power, and learning ability to engage in complex conversation without being confined to pre-recorded responses or specific phrasing, allowing clients and prospects to engage AI-powered virtual assistants in their own words.
Advantages of Conversational AI for Real Estate Businesses
At the most basic level, the role of a conversational AI system is to reduce the workload on agents while improving the customer experience for buyers and renters.
They do this by:
Answering Prospect Questions
Real estate agents are incredibly busy people, and memorizing every detail about a property can be time-consuming. As a result, if a potential buyer or renter contacts the agent with a question, the agent can't always respond straight away. Often, this question gets added to the to-do list to be answered later in the day, when the agent has time to review all the property details.
In contrast, an AI-powered voice or chatbot doesn't have this memory or workload limitation— it can access and return any available information about the property and resolve this query in mere seconds, sparing agents the hassle.
Helping With Property Search
Conversational AI platforms that are supported by machine learning and neural networks get even better at returning relevant results over time. Not only does the real estate chatbot learn more about a specific user and their preferences, but it also learns more about customer segments, or what types of potential buyers are more likely to be interested in certain properties.
Solving Site Browsing Issues
Although real estate companies invest significant time and effort into designing sleek and responsive websites, some users will inevitably run into confusion and difficulty in finding what they are looking for. An AI-powered chatbot on-site can eliminate these pain points by conversing with users and pointing them in the right direction, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a lower bounce rate. A win-win.
While there are many key advantages of adaptive conversational AI, the main benefit is for customer service teams or agents who typically handle all incoming calls. With a conversational AI system that is tailored for the real estate industry, upwards of 80% of renter requests can be resolved without the need for human intervention and businesses will see a significant decrease in average response time, leading to a high return on their initial investment.
How Conversational AI Outperforms Traditional IVR Systems for Real Estate leads
According to a 2020 study of over 1,000 consumers, a whopping 96% of respondents reported that they would be willing to switch brands or companies for better customer service. And it doesn’t stop there— a large portion of individuals also stated that they would tell others about a negative customer service experience. This means that businesses of all kinds, including real estate companies, cannot afford to fall short when it comes to providing outstanding customer experiences.
For real estate leads, a conversational AI system will provide the first point of contact and a great first impression of your firm. You may receive a high number of low-value calls such as quick queries about rent payments or where to find information regarding available properties. A conversational AI system can easily handle these calls and provide clients and prospects with answers, while your agents spend their time on more valuable calls and leads.
Traditional IVR systems are simply not capable of providing the desired level of personalization or customer service as they cannot deviate from the original regimented script, which can cause users to get stuck in a loop if the IVR doesn’t understand what they’re looking for. In contrast, an advanced conversational AI system that utilizes natural language understanding can process different types of phrasings to ensure clients are directed to the information they are looking for, or are connected with an agent that can answer their query.
Enhancing Customer Service with Conversational AI for Real Estate
While IVR systems are traditionally a popular way of handling incoming client calls, they lack flexibility, are often poorly designed or hard to understand, and lead to a high transfer rate, resulting in an even higher call volume for agents and frustration on the part of the caller.
Enter: conversational AI for real estate. AI-Powered virtual assistants, whether on-site, over the phone, or on messaging channels, supercharge on-site teams with round-the-clock lead management at scale, without the need for a single new hire by handling leasing conversations with leads on behalf of agents.
Advanced voicebots, such as what Hyro provides, are capable of answering incoming leasing calls and conversing with callers using natural language to record user preferences, check availability and prices, collect user details, and schedule a tour of the property. This frees up the on-site team to focus on what they are best at: providing superior experiences for the people in front of them.