To buy a house in India, there are hundreds of developers, each with several projects running at a given time. When scouting for the best option, the most a website offers is details and an enquiry form.
Once filled, a sales executive gets back and tries to pitch the project to you. But how well would the executive know your needs? It is difficult to say how often a simple lead such as this would convert into an actual sale for a developer.
To solve this problem and help increase sales for real estate companies, a Hyderabad-based startup has developed a customer engagement platform powered by artificial intelligence that works like a chat bot.
Founded a few months ago by Kanwaljeet Singla and Peeyush Kulshrestha, Kenyt Technologies has developed an AI-powered Domain Expert (AiDE), focused on real estate developers to try and engage potential customers on the developer’s website and social media. This virtual sales assistant tries to understand customer’s requirements, answers their queries, showcases the USPs of the project and eventually gets their contact details.
“The problem is that when they come on the website to see the details of a project, they typically spend less than a minute and that doesn’t really give them enough confidence to visit the project and check it out. So we are telling our customer that we will increase the time a buyer would spend on the website and increase their interest,” says Kanwaljeet.
Aiding home buyers
How this works is, every time someone visits a developer’s website or any of its social media platforms, all they have to say is a ‘Hi’ and the system starts talking. It starts by asking them specific questions to understand what they’re looking for and uses that opportunity to showcase all the important things about a property or project to them. The idea is to get prospective buyers interested in the house.
Kenyt’s AiDE tries to engage with users based on the personality of the developer. This means the AiDE ‘talks’ to the users depending on the kinds of projects they’re looking for, be it a luxury or budget one.
The advantage is also that the AiDE can manage any number of customers that visit the site – right from a few hundreds to thousands. Each visitor will be engaged uniquely based on their requirements.
Not just another chat bot
But there are several chat bots being developed every day. Across industries, companies are using chat bots to try and engage with their customers. So what is different about Kenyt’s AiDE?
Peeyush is quick to add at this point that Kenyt’s AiDE is not a simple FAQ system. “There is an entire artificial intelligence engine that is running in the background , trained with the personality of the developer and continuously understanding the psychology of the customer and accordingly change the flow of conversation and the information given to them,” he adds.
Existing live chat systems which are used today are not computer responsive, he adds. There are people physically sitting and replying. And the reply takes at least tens of seconds for every sentence, which defeats the purpose as the attention span of people, especially on mobiles is very low.
Kenyt’s AiDE is instant and ensures quality engagement right from the start of the conversation and is context specific. It also shares relevant pictures, videos, and other multimedia content, unlike other live chat systems, which are text-only.
“The idea is to try and satisfy customers right there in that conversation itself. And after that people are comfortable sharing their contact details, which is a better way to get leads than directly asking them in the first instance,” adds Peeyush.
Additionally, the AiDE also benefits the sales team of the real estate developer. Kanwaljeet says that while chatting, the company creates a data structure of the potential customer in the background. This data helps the sales team create a more focused sales pitch.
So when the sales team calls a potential customer, they already know enough about what they’re looking for and can pitch accordingly.
Kenyt Technologies works on a SaaS model and charges real estate developers a monthly fee to run this AI engine. There is also a small upfront charge to develop and set up the software.
The deployment is done per project as each project might have a different profile and the AiDE will need to be trained accordingly.
Having started commercial operations a month ago, Kenyt has so far done about three deployments and has seven more in the pipeline. So far it has covered Chandigarh, Jaipur and has several projects in Hyderabad. It has even done one for a developer in Malaysia.
An example of Kenyt's AiDE on a developer's website
Why real estate?
While there are several other industries that chat bots are being used in, Kanwaljeet and Peeyush say that the reason they went for the real estate sector is that there is an opportunity to scale up here.
“We wanted to serve something where customer engagement is very important. These are important life decisions and at the same time there is a potential to sell to thousands of people. There are thousands of developers in India and several thousands of projects going at a given time,” adds Kanwaljeet.
Kenyt is open to expanding to other industries in the future. But for now till at least 200 sales are completed, Kenyt will stick to real estate and create value there.
Another advantage of real estate, Peeyush says, is that the needs and solutions of the industry are similar to that in other countries, which gives them an opportunity to expand overseas.
In the near term, Kenyt wants to establish itself in India and then look at other countries, especially in Southeast Asia.
The only challenge will be maintaining quality of conversation and ensuring there is a local effect. Kanwaljeet says that requirements of home buyers differ in every city and country and the main challenge is to capture all that.
Kenyt is also working on supporting more languages for the bot to converse in. This is something that developers are also asking for, the startup says.
But the long term goal for Kenyt is to develop text and speech-based AiDEs across domains.
“We want to give machines the ability to intelligently converse with people. The idea is for them to know how to talk and take the conversation forward. That’s what we want to specialise in,” Peeyush says.
This article has been produced with inputs from T-Hub as a part of a partner program.