- 15 March 2019
We know that an 80% conversion rate sounds a little far-fetched, but that is the average conversion rate we see across all of our multifamily chat clients. On average, 81% of prospects who engage with our chat team opt into giving our agents their name, phone number, and email.
This shocking conversion rate is actually a 5 percentage point increase from our lead conversion rate from last year (76%). Our team has been generating industry-leading chat conversion rates for years.
While many businesses view chat as a nice extra or a commodity, we know that not all chat is created equal. Read on to find out why live chat is such a powerful platform for lead development and how our team successfully nurtures prospects throughout the leasing process.
The Best Friend Approach
One of the reasons our team is able to keep prospects engaged in the chat process is a technique that our Chat Director Tim calls the “Best Friend Approach”. Our live chat team treats every live chat conversation as if they are conversing with their best friend. This approach aims to build trust and personalize the chat process.
What this really translates to is empathy. When a prospect asks a live chat agent a personal question, our agents respond in a way that most bots and scripted agents can’t.
One example that comes to mind is when our live chat team responded to a prospect asking about leasing, pricing and floorplan options in the event that the roommate they planned to move in with backed out. Our live chat team was able to respond to these inquiries in a contextual way that made the prospect feel like they were getting advice and information from a friend, who understood their unique situation, as opposed to a series of canned messages.
The Lead Gathering Process
When a prospect chats with our live chat team, they feel like the service is designed to help them, rather than sell them. Ironically, this converse over convert emphasis actually leads to more conversions.
Some chat services automatically respond to an initial chat query with an automated message telling prospects to give over their contact information before they get a response from the live chat agent. This process doesn’t convey helpfulness or give prospects a compelling reason to give over their lead information, which is why these approaches lead to higher opt-out rates and missed opportunities.
Our team takes a subtler sales approach when they try to acquire a lead’s contact information. They start off by answering the query and then asking for the contact information they need to send follow up information to the client.
Throughout the entire process, they seek to build trust and prove to the prospect why it’s in their interest to give the community their contact information.
After we capture their contact information, we proceed through the conversation by asking lead-qualifying questions that help the prospect and the leasing team. The prospect is willing to give us more detailed information about their needs and situation because they are getting personalized feedback. This helps the leasing team deliver a more informed and relevant follow-up call and tour experience.
Once we answer the lead’s questions and gather more information about their needs, we ask them if they want to schedule a tour. Our lead to tour conversion rate is 30% on average. This process converts one-third of leads because we spend the first part of our conversation building trust and keeping the prospect engaged throughout the entire process.
Why do apartment seekers prefer to use Live Chat over other communication channels?
It boils down to speed, convenience, and comfort.
Recall that the average response time of a live chat agent is five seconds. Compare this to the hours or days it can take for prospects to get social media or email responses and it becomes clear why the approval ratings for Live Chat are over 90%. This immediacy is important for a couple of reasons.
First, it builds a reputation in the mind of your prospect that your community is responsive and cares about customer service. This is a big deal for people who might be leaving their current residence due to bad customer service issues (the number one reason people state leaving a multifamily community). It’s comforting for a potential renter to know they can get in touch with someone right away if they have questions in the future.
Second, it means your prospect is staying engaged with you and not moving onto research your competitor. Renting an apartment is a big commitment when people are faced with making a big decision they turn to search engines to research their options. If a prospect doesn’t get the feedback they are looking for right away, they will likely click away from your website and move onto your competitor’s.
One nice thing about live chat, is that it allows for people to multitask while communicating with a community. According to the Pew Research Center’s “How Americans use Instant Messaging Study”, “A majority of IM users say they do other things on their computer and online at the same time they are participating in IM sessions”.
Our own analysis of apartment community website traffic indicates that most apartment website visitors are on apartment websites in the middle of the day. Live chat communication is ideal for someone who is multitasking at work (someone who isn’t available to make a phone call and needs answers right away).
Prospects feel more comfortable asking questions over a live chat messenger than they do on the phone or face to face. This means communities are more likely to get to address concerns or questions that could be holding a renter back from applying.
Your odds of making further contact with a lead decrease by as much as 10x after five minutes have passed (Drift/ HBR). Live chat helps communities strike while the iron is hot and increases their chances of being able to convert website visitors into leads. Professional and well trained live chat agents can expand your leasing team’s efforts by qualifying prospects and encouraging them to move through the leasing funnel. The best part? Your team will have more time to spend on closing the sale and retaining current residents.