The Role of Bots, AI in Your CRE Business
- Mar 31, 2017
Washington, D.C.—Technology has found a new place in the customer service sector of the real estate industry, but the winning formula does not exclude the human touch. Experts are instead emphasizing how a mix of professional agents and bots or artificial intelligence can increase a company’s productivity and efficiency. Zvi Band, CEO at CRM company Contactually, discusses the best uses for technology in real estate businesses.
CPE: What role should technology play in a real estate company’s relationship to its customers?
Zvi Band: At the end of the day, real estate is still an intimate transaction that requires high touch. It’s the most expensive asset one owns or rents, it’s the roof over your head for you and your family. It is hard to picture the human touch being removed. That being said, technology can aid the real estate salesperson and their company in executing such a relationship. It can aid with the right information at the right time, to the right party. It can make decision-making easier. It can help all parties execute more effectively. Overall, the question agents, teams and companies should be asking is: Will this help myself and the consumer get to the end goal?
CPE: How common is the use of bots in real estate? How can these tools be used to the advantage of a company?
Band: We’re still in the awareness phase of the hype cycle. There are lots of ideas, and now we have to see what filters down to actual use. The one area where we see bots are starting to get deployed in a productive way is rapid response to inbound leads (inquiries that result from media ads, the internet or mass mailings) to help gauge initial quality and improve conversion rates. Again, it comes down to helping the salesperson and company build a better relationship.
CPE: Why should real estate companies maintain human relationships with customers if a bot can take care of that?
Band: Given that real estate is such an intimate transaction, consumers will likely still demand human touch. That begs the question—can human touch be replicated? In a simple, first response way: yes. But to maintain an ongoing relationship to replicate how humans interact, we are still a long way away from bots being able to pass the Turing test, especially in a real estate context.
CPE: How can this healthy human relationship with customers be maintained?
Band: That’s where technology can come into play. While humans are still the best for the actual engagement and relationship building, technology can and should play a role in assisting. We spend so much time thinking about what’s right in front of us, we may lose sight of who we should be engaging with over the long term, when it’s a good time to reach out or the past context of that relationship. That’s where having a strong database can aid us in tracking all the relevant details about our sphere, to help us engage with the right person at the right time with the right value.
CPE: Could you outline a few trends you’re seeing related to technology in real estate?
Band: Thinking about the agent side: Understanding how teams can most effectively operate and how technology can assist with that; professionalization of their marketing activities—helping the salesperson understand where their best opportunities come from and helping them get more; and mobile—we’re at the stage in the hype cycle where an agent is starting to look at what tools can actually help them on the go.
CPE: Do you see artificial intelligence becoming increasingly prevalent in the real estate industry in the coming years? In what forms?
Band: A prominent venture capitalist noted that “software is eating the world” and artificial intelligence is yet another wave of this. If technology is here to help us do our job better by removing certain tasks or actions from our plates, AI will increase the likelihood of that. For example, if artificial intelligence can assist a potential buyer with identifying the three best properties, instead of requiring a human do so, that can let them focus a bit more on other aspects of the relationship.
CPE: How open are real estate companies to including technology in their daily operations?
Band: Real estate companies, in general, understand that technology is a critical part of their short-, medium- and long-term success. One thing some of the more advanced companies are latching on to is—it’s not just about productivity, but it’s also about recruiting and retaining the best agents.
Image courtesy of Contactually