What Makes a Great Customer Experience in 2023?
What will a great customer experience look like in 2023? That’s what we sought to answer in the first of our series of KnockTalk Live! events on LinkedIn.
Knock® Senior Technical Consultant James Etherington joined Lincoln Property Company’s VP of Marketing & Communications, Sheri Killingsworth, and National Director of Marketing Operations, Nicole McLemore, to explore how artificial intelligence can improve the customer experience — and why owners and operators should lean into AI more than ever before. (Spoiler: it’s easier to implement than you think!)
Read on below for a recap of the conversation.
From “Memorable Experiences” to Seamless Digital Communications
Before looking forward, it’s important to see how far you’ve come. And having been at Lincoln for over 20 years, both Killingsworth and McLemore have seen the multifamily customer experience go through a dramatic transformation.
“Ten to 20 years ago, great customer service was all about creating that great person-to-person connection and memorable customer experiences, and then technology changed that,” said McLemore.
Lincoln’s first initiative was to go paperless with online applications, rent payment systems, and maintenance requests. Going digital was mutually beneficial, giving prospects and residents more options and helping leasing teams get rid of their heavy binders. “We’re trying to take something that was once very personal, and now it's something techy,” McLemore added. “Making that transition has been hard.”
The Best Use of AI? In Combination with a Human Connection.
With the digital floodgates open, Lincoln — like many other property management companies across the country — saw a “wave” of applications crash onto their doorsteps. In the past few years, that wave grew even larger. “We don’t have the staff to actually respond to and physically work with all of these people looking for homes,” said Killingsworth. “That’s what has made AI so needed for our teams, so they can weed through some of that traffic.”
While AI and other tech have certainly helped, at Lincoln, Killingsworth and McLemore have found that the best use of AI is to combine it with a human connection — so there’s no need to worry about technology making us obsolete.
“This technology is going to deliver a prospect to your teams, you’ll have the ‘CliffsNotes’ version available right there for your teams, and your teams can take that and run with it,” summarized Etherington. “It’s going to make leasing teams’ lives and prospects’ lives much easier.”
With an AI “agent” available 24/7 to answer prospects’ questions or schedule tours via chatbot, or email them a quote after they’ve completed a tour, prospects get a streamlined leasing journey — and onsite teams get more time to create personalized follow ups to close the deal.
AI can also improve the resident experience, said Killingsworth. “Whenever they become a resident, still having that communication — whether it’s a maintenance request or automated renewals — ties everything together, from prospecting to leasing to being a resident.”
The Future of AI in Multifamily
“I’m very excited for all of the things coming out with AI,” said Killingsworth. “I’m excited with email; I like the idea of generating more leads through emails. I’m also really excited to start testing calls. Knock has an AI Voice tool that we are hopefully going to start piloting.”
Killingsworth is also looking forward to the possibility of having AI be part of an omni-channel solution — a tech stack where each tool plays nicely with the rest.
“Technology is hard and change is hard, but we’re here to embrace it,” she said. “Sometimes you do get lost in it, but if you're making things easier for the leasing team, it's also making things better for prospects and residents.”