Apartment Chatbots: What to Ask Before You Buy

Shopping for an apartment leasing chatbot? Use these 50+ questions to find the right vendor.
June 16, 2020

Considering an Apartment Chatbot?

Introducing new technologies for your apartment communities does so much more than just dress it up and increase the appeal for residents. Smart-home devices and software powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve operational efficiencies and your net operating incomes. Plus, in today’s environment with social distancing, technology is crucial for maintaining daily operations and enabling activity from beyond the leasing office.

Right now, you may be in the position of needing new tools to help your prospects stay connected with your communities. One of the most widely used solutions is the property management chatbot, also known as a virtual leasing assistant. However, choosing which virtual assistant for your multifamily business is not an easy decision. With the list of vendors growing in the virtual assistant space for multifamily, knowing which ones are actually using voice-enabled AI could be the difference between choosing the right partner or not for your properties.

How do you know which questions to ask and what kind of answers you should be looking for? Start by asking these 50+ questions before purchasing a virtual assistant for your apartment portfolio.

Ask Vendors These 50+ Questions First...

Technology and Capabilities

Ensure the vendor is using AI to power their virtual assistant. Be wary of vendors whose chatbots solely use menu- or button-based interfaces, as these are not true forms of AI and cannot easily scale like their AI-powered counterparts. Plus, a true virtual leasing assistant needs to go beyond being a simple chatbot. It should have the ability to converse with your prospects on the channels they use most—phone calls, text messages, and chat. Double-check with your vendor to ensure their virtual assistant can support all three.

  1. Does your product use Natural Language Processing?
  1. Can it converse with my rental prospects on phone calls?
  1. Can it converse with my rental prospects via text message?
  1. Can it converse with my rental prospects on my property websites?
  1. Does it integrate with my Property Management System (PMS)?
  1. Can it pull real-time pricing and availability from my PMS?
  1. Does it collect guest card information and set appointments with text confirmations?

Chatbot Knowledge

Can the virtual assistant successfully answer leasing questions for your prospects? It should answer at least 100+ leasing questions.

Use the list of leasing questions below for common examples.

  1. What apartment amenities do you have? Ensure it can tell you about individual apartment amenities such as: accent walls, appliances, balconies, ceiling height, flooring, internet, and more.
  1. What property amenities do you have? Ensure if can tell you about individual property amenities such as business center, car wash area, club discounts, concierge, parking, dog park, fitness center, pool, security, and more.
  1. Do you have any move-in specials right now?
  1. Are any utilities covered in rent?
  1. Do you offer resident referral incentives?
  1. Do I need renter’s insurance?
  1. Do you accept rent on a per-diem basis?
  1. What fees do you charge?
  1. Do you offer affordable housing?
  1. Can I have a co-signer?
  1. How are you handling COVID-19?
  1. What lease terms do you offer?
  1. Is there a limit on the number of roommates?
  1. What's your pet policy?
  1. Do you prorate rent?
  1. What rental qualifications are there?
  1. Are service animals allowed?
  1. Do you have short term leases available?
  1. Do you allow subleasing?
  1. Send me directions to the community.
  1. I want to submit an application.
  1. Is there someone bilingual I can talk to?
  1. Do you offer a house-sitting service?
  1. Do you offer a housekeeping service?
  1. What schools are nearby?
  1. What's the closest public transportation?
  1. Are there jogging trails nearby?

Customization and Dialogue Management

Being able to customize your virtual assistant’s experience to align with your company’s voice and brand is important. Ask these questions to ensure you have full control over the experience that will be offered from the virtual assistant to your rental prospects.

  1. Is there a self-serve dashboard to make customizations for the virtual assistant?
  1. For phone conversations, can the virtual assistants’ voice be customized?
  1. How many voices and voice speeds can I choose from?
  1. Can I customize each of the responses it provides regarding apartment and property amenities and services?
  1. Can I customize each of the responses it provides regarding fees and specials?
  1. Do I have the option to turn on/off pricing and availability questions for my properties?
  1. Can I customize a pricing disclaimer that is given by the virtual assistant?
  1. Can I customize the target phone numbers for transferring to the front-office leasing staff or maintenance team?
  1. Can I customize the styling, colors, and icon of the chatbot for my property websites?
  1. Can I specify how many days into the future that a prospect can schedule a tour?
  1. I specify the amount of time between the current time and the soonest time that a prospect can schedule a tour?

IVR, Tracking and Reporting

Your virtual assistant should come with ample tracking and reporting, so your team can close on all the prospects nurtured by the bot. Ask these questions to find out if the virtual assistant is equipped with robust reporting.

  1. Will I receive email notifications if a guest card is collected?
  1. Will I receive email notifications if an appointment or tour is set?
  1. If voice activated, will the virtual assistant come with its own telephone tracking number?
  1. If voice activated, will the virtual assistant come with IVR for my phone system?
  1. Is there a central reporting system where I can track and measure the activity?
  1. Can I schedule reports?
  1. Can I listen to the actual phone recordings between prospects and the virtual assistant?
  1. Can I read the conversation transcriptions between prospects and the virtual assistant?

Vendor History and Support

You should feel confident that your vendor will provide ample support and training. This includes during the implementation phase and after. There’s nothing worse than onboarding a new technology without the proper support and training, and then feeling unsupported later.

  1. How long have you offered virtual assistant solutions for the multifamily industry?
  1. What is the typical implementation or deployment plan?
  1. What type of support will you provide?
  1. Do you provide training for my team?
  1. What is the pricing for your virtual assistant? What’s included?
  1. Can you share reviews or client testimonials from other multifamily businesses who use your virtual assistant?

We hope these questions help you in your journey to evaluating the right virtual leasing assistant vendor for your properties! As a vendor ourselves, we know first-hand all of the key components required to build and deploy a successful virtual leasing assistant solution for multifamily properties. We’re here for you any time, send us a note and let us know how we can help your properties get started.

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