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5 Misconceptions about AI in Multifamily

With so many services now classifying themselves as AI, it’s hard to tell whether or not they’re actually based in tech, or just using a catchy buzzword to distract us from the wizards behind the curtain.

In 2018, we launched BetterBot.ai, and began marketing our product with the term “AI” thrown in to any material we created. As we continued to develop our product further though, we soon realized that AI is more than just a simple buzzword to slap onto a piece of collateral. It’s a term that’s often used when referring to the Natural Language Processing (NLP) software that builds the foundation of many chatbots and other industry tools, but what does it really mean? Today, we’re going to dive into what this tech really is, and the most common misconceptions about AI in multifamily. 

Natural Language Processing & AI

Put simply, NLP is the layer that communicates between computers and the humans interacting with them. Where AI comes in is through the process of machine learning. This process organizes the information collected from NLP and puts it into action. In the chatbot space today, this part is often overlooked due to the sheer complexity of this process and lack of understanding of its potential. 

The thing is, there is no true 100% AI chatbot or leasing tool (yet). Every product currently on the market requires some degree of human assistance and intervention. 

As conversational designer Maggie Jabczynski put it, “Over time, a bot can better understand its users as it receives more and more word combinations. Then – thanks to human intervention – it connects sentences from users in the chat to correct answers.” This learning curve is one of the many fallbacks to bot tech that relies on NLP. Our language is constantly evolving, so the work of the AI is never truly finished. 

Common misconceptions about AI in multifamily

1. All chatbots use AI

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are a variety of different chatbot types that all use different technologies and levels of AI to engage with people. For example, BetterBot is a guided conversation bot, which leads users through a branched series of questions and responses depending on their query.

2. AI replaces the need for human intervention

AI and AI-adjacent tech like chatbots have gotten a bad rap in the past decade or so, and all because of the misconception that these technologies are out to replace human workers and jobs. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Like we mentioned before, there is no 100% AI-based chatbot, which means that this tech will always have to be guided by trained (human) professionals. 

3. Only AI chatbots can give creative replies

One of the great things about guided conversation chatbots is that they can be programmed to tackle any question or query, all with a unique voice. Want your bot to be straight to the point? Cool. Want to inject a little more humor and friendliness into your bot? You totally can. However you want to get creative with your bot, you can – no AI needed. 

4. All it takes to train AI is uploading your website resources

One of the biggest misconceptions about AI in multifamily is that training an AI-based or NLP chatbot just involves info-dumping all of your resources and FAQs into a database. While that would be amazing and save us all so much time, unfortunately that is not how it actually works. There’s a lot involved with creating a functional AI architecture, and most property management teams either a) don’t have the resources or b) have no actual need to invest in that.

5. Your bot technology can self-improve

If you build your chatbot on intelligent software, it should be able to continually improve upon itself without human intervention, right? Not exactly. While neural networks can learn on their own, there are no bots currently available that can learn independently from past conversations without some kind of human intervention.

As we continue to grow the BetterBot.ai brand, we want to be intentional about emphasizing transparency – not only in our process, but in our data. We believe there’s no better way to understand how humans work and interact with each other than to have humans, not AI, be the masterminds behind our chatbot. No AI, no robots, just human-generated guided conversations that have a proven track record for converting prospects into renters.

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5 Reasons Why Your Student Housing Site Needs a Chatbot

Today’s students are busier than ever. Between classes, internships, jobs, and enjoying all the fun that college life has to offer, there’s little time to spend searching for housing. What’s more, property management teams have a lot on their plate as well, and often have a hard time keeping up with all the leads coming their way. Fortunately, bot technology is transforming the student housing space for today’s digital-first world, and at BetterBot, we’re helping lead the charge. Here’s 5 of our top reasons why your educational organization will benefit from a student housing chatbot. 

Student housing chatbot stats

Bots have changed the game when it comes to multifamily, and it’s no different when it comes to student housing. And, with great bot technology becoming more affordable and accessible, more universities and colleges are leveraging it. As of 2020, 37% of all educational organizations use some form of a chatbot for student housing. 

One of the many benefits of chatbots that property teams love is that it takes the pressure off lead conversion. For example, property management teams who use BetterBot are able to convert 21.3% of chatbot conversations into handoffs. 

Why your student housing site needs a chatbot

Along with giving your property teams more peace of mind (and who doesn’t want that?), here’s some of the top advantages a student housing chatbot can provide:

Simplified scheduling

Through chatbots, students looking for their next place can easily view available properties and floor plans. Instead of having to jump through hoops and fill out lead form after lead form, prospective renters can explore units with ease, and when it comes time, can schedule an appointment directly from the bot. 

Interactive student resources

Oftentimes, students looking for housing want to see more than a floor plan before they make a commitment for a semester or year. The good news is, chatbots can easily be loaded up with all sorts of interactive resources that people can use to assess whether or not a particular property is a good fit. Things like virtual tours and 3D videos can provide a much more accurate snapshot of a particular space, and can help students get the info they need without having to schedule an in-person appointment. 

Omnichannel management  

One of the great things about chatbots is that they don’t have to live exclusively on your property website. Instead, they can be integrated into your wider digital and social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Google My Business, and more. If you’re looking to connect with students where they already are, this is a great way to do it. 

Student housing chatbots lead to more conversions

Chatbots make it easy for students to get the information they need quickly and easily. Instead of having to wait around for a live customer service representative to respond to their queries, bots give prospective renters everything they need to know in order to make a decision. That’s why we see 21.3% of conversations converting into handoffs.  

Actionable, in-depth reporting

A great bot will offer your team a dashboard that collects quality KPIs and offers actionable insights at a glance. Instead of having to track and organize all your metrics on your own, chatbots do the work for you, leading to overall higher performance and efficiency. 

Learn more about our student housing chatbot solution here! 

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BetterPractices: Understanding NLP

To NLP or not to NLP… wait, what’s the question?

What’s the question, indeed. Take a look at the simple question below with four simple words.  Notice that depending on what emphasis you place on which word, the question has a totally different meaning:

Did you buy that? Translated meaning: Or did you borrow it?

Did you buy that? Translated meaning: Did someone else buy that?

Did you buy that? Translated meaning: Did you steal that?

Did you buy that? Translated meaning: Wow, that’s ugly.

Welcome to the English language, or any language for that matter. It’s filled with nuances, syntax, homonyms, synonyms, and even slang. It’s no wonder that when a computer can respond correctly to a typed or spoken sentence it’s super cool! This is Natural Language Processing (NLP) at its best.

In 2017 and 2018 BetterBot built the largest proprietary NLP engine in all of Multifamily filled with the terms we use every day in our Industry.  Then walked away from it altogether.  Why?  

Because NLP breaks 3 out of 10 times.* It turns out the biggest and best NLP solutions in the world such as IBM Watson, Google Dialogflow, Amazon’s Alexa or Comprehend, etc., all have the same breakage problems.* And these are the best on the planet!

Imagine asking a leasing agent the same question ten times and three of those times, you didn’t get the answer you were looking for, or worse, you didn’t even get a response back. That can profoundly affect your user experience. With this type of error rate, NLP requires a level of human supervision to course-correct when it incorrectly interprets an interaction. This doesn’t make leasing jobs easier, it actually creates more work for leasing teams now having to either monitor, assist or completely take over when NLP fails.

Taking a look at some of the biggest conversational bot solutions such as Drift and Intercom, they have all moved to Guided Conversation or Rules-Based Chat. The reason being? You can’t break it. If you look at some of the other bots in the Multifamily space, they recently began incorporating some sort of Guided Conversation because they know that without it, the system can’t stand alone.

Guided conversation can also lead renters through different levels of a single inquiry, providing deeper understanding into the topic and thus making them a more qualified prospect when they ultimately convert to a tour. Natural Language Processing assumes the renter wants to continue the conversation after their question has been answered, rather than presenting additional routes to follow.

BetterBot learned a great deal during their early development period about what prospective renters and residents are looking for in their digital interactions. Approximately 40% of consumers don’t care whether a chatbot or a real human helps them, as long as they’re getting the help they need (Invesp). So, let a chatbot be a chatbot and own it. 

And finally, IBM found that Chatbots can help reduce customer service costs by 30%, services such as answering Frequently Asked Questions, scheduling tours, and providing renter resources. Not to mention, always being available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We even throw in an extra day every four years, just for good measure. So let’s be clear, Chatbots are NEVER going to replace a leasing agent, but it can help offload these menial tasks so that leasing agents can go back to doing what they do best… being human!

*BetterBot 2017 & 2018, LivePerson 2016



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