Bots are opening up a whole new way of communicating with customers. They’re also in the news a lot these days, so you’ve probably found yourself with a lot of questions.

1. What are chatbots?

Chatbots are familiar to anyone who’s used an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system when placing a call to almost any company or business these days — “Please say or enter your account number” — and so on. The difference between traditional IVR and a chatbot is artificial intelligence. The IVR works because of its ability to understand natural language and provide a response which it pulls from a static database of answers. AI utilizes “machine learning” to make improvements to responses in “real time” the more it engages with users. By combining the IVR’s ability to understand natural language with AI’s learning capability, the bot can provide responses based on previous experiences. This means today’s digital assistants are much brighter than those sophisticated “call trees” of the past. And, they’re only going to get smarter.

2. What can a chatbot do?

A chatbot can recognize either spoken or typed words and phrases. It then searches for an answer that most closely corresponds in order to continue the conversation. Bots can be used to carry out transactions, answer questions, and capture customer feedback. These abilities are embedded in virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and OK Google.

In addition to virtual assistants, bots can be found on most company websites and their corresponding apps. Retail shopping sites and instant messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger, use chatbots. Chatbots are also being used on entertainment and research sites. There are also “social bots” that can be used to promote a particular product, candidate, or issue.

3. Do my clients want to speak to a chatbot?

The use of chatbots is growing exponentially. More and more individuals are spending time on chat sites as opposed to corporate websites and even social media. And, because chatbots converse in a more natural way, capturing information and responding intelligently, users experience a higher level of engagement without ever picking up the phone

4. How could I use a chatbot?

Chatbots are best for taking over repetitive tasks. They can assist customers on the phone and manage chat on your website. Your real estate chatbot could capture leads, schedule meetings, provide customer support using FAQ’s, capture customer feedback, manage downloadable content, and collect information on your target market.

5. How is a chatbot created?

A chatbot is a software application. There are vendors that provide tools for chatbot creation and a platform for publishing. If you have some developer experience you can find templates designed specifically for the real estate industry. You can find these and much more online.

The Bottom Line

While bots may seem unfamiliar, chances are you’ve already engaged with one and didn’t even know it. Whether you’re speaking to it or typing text, these smart assistants can answer your questions, place your order, and update information in a seamless way that emails, websites and apps have simply not been able to do. That’s the beauty.