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The two companies have spent the past many months overlapping Structurely’s advanced contextual language tools with CINC’s library lead generation and nurturing tools it provides to clients.
CINC focused heavily on leveraging “Alex,” an automated lead capture chat technology, through Structurely’s existing technology to communicate empathy, react to implicit messages about homebuying and alert agents to prospect readiness, which it defines as having asked about a home’s price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, and financing.
Chat conversations with the bot can go so far as to include deliberate typos for the very purpose of responding with a corrected word accompanied by the standard asterisk (*).
Alex can also refer to the COVID-19 pandemic, send emojis and respond in Spanish.
“We’re trying to scale humanness,” said CINC Product Manager Jonathan Choi.
The app isn’t overly chatty either, as it will mute itself based on participant activity and pick back up as the user engages. Questions that happen to stump Alex are quickly addressed by the joint development team to teach Alex how to respond next time.
The bot reacts to lead activity within CINC-connected marketing tools, as well. Leads who haven’t been active in more than 60 days in response to email or website listings will get a ping from Alex inquiring as to why. Appointments can be set, too.
Choi said the teams are looking to have the ability to send GIFs ready for soft launch sometime in August. Hard launch is planned for early fall, likely September.
The ultimate value to CINC’s customers is the integration of the technologies. Much of Alex’s conversational intelligence exists already, but the direct integration with an agent’s existing database of leads and past contacts offers users a leg-up in terms of new business generation and relationship building.
In a phone call with Inman, Structurely CEO Nate Joens said that this relationship is unique because of the level of integration.
“We work with a lot of CRMs and have a bunch of integrations, but nothing plugged directly into a CRM that can use activity data like someone searching on a website, opening an email, viewing properties, or scheduling an appointment,” Joens said. “We can leverage their drip campaigns, their behavioral messaging product, and couple that with our AI product.”
Speed of response is absolutely crucial in an era of demanding, digitally informed consumers. This is another way in which chat tech like Alex can be an advantage to real estate agents.
One can argue that speed of response is even more crucial for your existing customers, meaning a chatbot’s integration becomes even more valuable in that respect. Losing current customers is much more expensive than gaining new ones.
So far, Alex has been busy. The bot engaged 7,798 times in May and as of this writing, has had 7,971 chats in June. In terms of leads companywide, CINC generated more than 370,000 across its customer base.
Alex isn’t all that forthcoming, however. The bot doesn’t offer up who — or what — it is unless asked. And when challenged, reveals being only an assistant to the agent in question.
While many chat tools are open about their digital identities, CINC and Structurely are confident Alex’s discourse is business-savvy enough to reach conversion before the lead knows.
Global IT services and consulting company CGS, founded in 1984, conducted a study in 2018 about consumers and bots. The results didn’t favor automated conversation, finding that while humans are slower to respond, 40 percent of survey respondents prefer to talk directly with a person.
The survey was conducted within the context of information technology support and service. It also showed that 60 percent of respondents between the ages of 35-44 believed business is moving too quickly to bots. However, only 33 percent of consumers between 18-24 thought that way and only 37 percent of people between 25-34.
Thus, the future looks brighter for automated lead response.
Joens agrees, and cites older technology and form-based chat response. “Autoresponders were really cool five and 10 years ago, people have sniffed those out and hate them,” he said. “Every one who generates and manages leads is going to have to have some offering that can take these conversations further.”
Upon launch, all CINC customers will be able to use Alex, but expect some additional costs for each website (at the domain level) that deploys the technology.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.