One of the most subtle ways artificial intelligence is being used in our daily lives is through chatbots. Chatbots are intelligent software agents that interact with people using natural language in order to meet certain targets. They can be a useful tool as technical support for an electronic device, when searching for a piece of furniture in a shop (like Chatbot Anna at Ikea) or when making a doctor’s appointment. They basically save time and money and automate repetitive tasks.
Technological advances in artificial intelligence make chatbots increasingly efficient, which is highly interesting. As mentioned in the specialised newsletter Chatbots Life, some companies are already using them to filter and even help transform potential clients’ contacts with estate agencies into sales.
In one particular article they describe how a chatbot helped to sell 3 apartments in 10 days, a good number if we take into account that it basically worked alone and managed around 250 conversations that 1000 users initiated by clicking on a Facebook ad (cost: 100 euros). The initial group interested in the apartments resulted in 60 ‘eligible contacts’, of which three ended up reserving an apartment. A good ratio.
There are several tools to create these chatbots, with different levels of complexity, but they all work in a similar way: they are fed with raw data, such as location, photos, surface, number of rooms, energy certification, price ranges or even financing options. This information is not that different from what is published in ads on sales websites. A natural language processing system manages the conversations with potential clients, detecting expressions and key words in order to provide the best answers.
Chatbots show the information and always try to answer the most basic questions, providing further information on, for example, the price of the apartments, showing some photos or explaining additional characteristics. Many answers are guided with links (options such as ‘Tell me more’).
One of the advantages of chatbots is that they can break down barriers: we know that 70% of website visitors who have questions would rather use the chat box than make a phone call. Secondly, chatbots do not ‘pressure too much’ or frighten clients away, but they do the exact opposite. People try to get information from them until reaching a key moment which is when they are asked if they want to be contacted by a real person and receive a formal proposal.
What is interesting about chatbots is that once they have been given basic information, they can then be fed with massive amounts of data on hundreds of homes, premises, garages or offices, both for sale or to rent. Many also ‘learn’ from previous conversations, thus improving their comprehension and answering skills. If the conversion rate is right (and we don’t need long to assess whether the investment has been worthwhile) chatbots are a simple way to achieve a powerful, yet cheap filter to find eligible contacts in ways that may have not been sufficiently exploited.