Godrej Properties hopes to provide differentiated customer experience using chatbots

Vineet Bhardwaj, Associate VP – IT, Godrej Properties
Vineet Bhardwaj, Associate VP – IT, Godrej Properties

Godrej Properties plans to implement chatbots over frameworks, atop which the inhouse teams can design the chatbots as per the requirement. Abhishek Raval speaks to Vineet Bhardwaj, Associate VP – IT, Godrej Properties

The real estate industry is transforming at a rapid pace and witnessing a sharp decline in the average age of home buyers who are well-travelled and extremely tech-savvy. Thanks to easy home finance options and other socio-economic factors, home-buying is no longer an option for people who are above 40 years of age. A large amount of young and successful women home-buyers are also entering the market. The dynamics are really changing and this means an ever growing percentage of Gen Y buyers in the customer profiling matrix. This generation is extremely tech savvy and wants everything at their fingertips which makes it absolutely necessary for all brands to be available and connect with prospects at a time and place of their choice.

In this backdrop, Godrej Properties is exploring using AI in the form of chabots. In recent times, there is a spurt in the use of chatbots mainly to handle frequently asked queries. While the live chat feature has been in existence for some time now, having a 24×7 live chat feature is very expensive, since it requires a 24×7 call centre set-up, which is not economically viable. Also it may not be effectively utilized, if the adoption rate is low. Chatbots can certainly provide a big cost saving to provide 24×7 human like chat experience without having to setup the backend call center. It also helps in standardizing the responses for the frequently asked questions which is not possible in human driven chats. Godrej Properties is also looking at options of using similar chatbot functionality for the internal customers where they will be able to get answers to their policies and procedure related queries in an automated way effectively without any manual intervention.

Role of chatbot in real estate is different from most other businesses

To begin with, the chatbot will be designed for customer centric functions and will be used in functions such as marketing, HR processes and IT helpdesk. The company will design the framework and the platform for the chatbot . The strategy is not to buy an off the shelf solution. Once the framework and the engine is in place, it’s all about finding the right areas of application.

The chatbots will be designed on a common framework and all the data from various chatbots will reside on one platform. The analytics layer on top will give various themes and tracks that otherwise would have gone unfounded. The plan is also to integrate the pre and the post sales bot, which will help in cross selling. For example, a current customer posting a query on a post sales bot on the coming up projects will be given all the required information on that bot itself instead of being asked to contact the business development person. This will be possible only after the pre and post sales bot integration.

On a monthly basis, close to 5000 queries hit the call centre. It’s important to note that contrary to most of the other business verticals, the value of these customers is much more given that they have invested lakhs and in many cases crores on the real estate purchased. Consequently, the per customer value is immensely high. The usual queries include: checking the latest invoices; the construction status; the impact of GST on the property purchased etc.

“We will have to be very particular on what’s the kind of interaction the bot has with the customer, given that Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has been introduced. The queries regarding terms and conditions of the property bought has to be in consonance with the regulation. Another example can be, as per RERA, the area sold by the developer is the carpet area and not the saleable area. In the presales space, the developer has to be very particular about the amenities mentioned in the project. So, compliance has to be strictly adhered to. The bot will have to undergo a strong Quality Assurance (QA) check before it goes for production,” says Vineet Bhardwaj, Associate VP – IT, Godrej Properties. A single customer loss can tantamount to a high loss of revenue, which may not be the case for other industries.

In case, the chatbot will not be able to handle the query, it will be registered in the CRM module and a live agent will personally give a call rather than taking over the chat. The agent will have the transcript and will reply accordingly.

Chatbot buying model

Godrej Properties has adopted a hybrid approach for buying a chatbot framework. “We are exploring frameworks from startups and off-the-shelf providers. The off-the-shelf solutions haven’t yet fitted into our requirements because of the unique model that we are looking for,” says Bhardwaj.

Bhardwaj is looking forward to interacting with many startups and benchmarking other chatbots with what the company can do. The approach will be to have a framework that can be bought and then the internal teams will use it for designing the chatbot functionality as may be demanded by the business functions.It’s very important to do the expectation setting on what all can a chatbot answer and achieve. At times, organizations can go overboard in expecting too much out of the available technologies.

“We have done a couple of PoCs and have tried off the shelf products. The company is in talks with some developers and framework providers, who provide a framework rather than a solution. We have done negotiations with close to 9-10 companies,” states Bhardwaj. The attempt is to benchmark the bots with what banks have been doing for their customers.

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