Improving customer service and built-in conveniences for leasing teams through integration.
Multifamily housing operators often see the greatest benefits from new innovations when the technology doesn’t need to be managed by onsite teams. As a result, more management companies are turning to artificial intelligence to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and start down the path toward more autonomous communities.
During the 2021 Apartmentalize session, “Is Artificial Intelligence Changing Rental Housing Management?” industry experts weighed in on the various successes of AI in the multifamily space, and the issues it is helping to solve at the property level.
Companies like Waterton are routing all digital leasing inquiries through an AI platform. Matt Mehon, Director of Marketing and Leasing at Waterton, said the process has improved customer service and built-in conveniences for leasing teams through integration.
“We’re really focusing on bolstering the leasing process through AI,” Mehon said. “By routing digital inquiries through AI, our leasing consultants can devote time to the customer sitting in front of them. It improves the customer experience and customer service. Also, AI interacts with a lot of different technologies and will schedule an appointment directly with a customer for virtual or self-guided tours. The technology interaction is largely at the CRM level, so if one of our associates wants to see how the conversion is going between our AI and a particular customer, they can go in and do that through the CRM system.”
At Equity Residential, leasing teams noticed that 35% of customers were reaching out after business hours, but teams were following up on those leads only 65% of the time. By switching to an AI platform, responses were sent promptly and dependably.
“It creates an extreme amount of consistency in our process,” said Kristin Hupfer, First Vice President of National Sales at Equity. “AI does 30% better than a leasing consultant on those after-hours responses, and it puts the customer information into the CRM system on such a consistent basis that it is much more accurate than ever before.”
By scheduling appointments through an AI system versus a call center, Waterton has seen more residents show up for their tours (80%), as well as less time wasted on unqualified prospects.
Jason Kessler, Chief Operating Officer at Edward Rose & Sons, said AI is helping to drive associate satisfaction and retention.
“We need people to be the professionals they want to be. They don’t need to be operators,” Kessler said. “We want our associates to be as successful as possible within the organization. We need more property managers and regional managers, due to our growth, and we need our associates’ feedback to help implement this. They need to know that this is how they’re going to be more successful.”
The panelists agreed that identifying super-users and project managers for AI implementations is crucial, as is sticking to a timeline for deployment. Because the earlier property teams can integrate AI into their leasing practices, the more successful they will be.
Doug Pike is a Content Manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing.
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