You’ve most likely heard the phrase, “the voice of the generation.” Usually, this honorable distinction is given to a person of stature considered to be an inspirational leader of a respective movement. There have been plenty of powerful and uplifting voices throughout history, but perhaps, none more innovative and curious than the voice of the 21st century: voice technology. Known as the next evolution of technological interaction, voice technology is essentially the science behind our favorite daily devices’ voice command capabilities.
Even though there’s little reason to question voice technology’s popularity, you might be wondering exactly how its adoption came about. The answer is simple: the proliferation of smart devices on the market today has led to an increased demand for instantaneous responsiveness. Just look at Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana – these voice-powered personal assistants are relied upon to fetch must-know information and complete routine tasks. Consumers own over 100 million smart speakers alone, and 72 percent of owners report using these voice-powered devices daily.
Needless to say, the outlook for voice technology is very favorable and promises substantial growth. Aside from consumers, many industries in the business world are embracing this continually developing technology. In fact, the multifamily sector is particularly excited about the ways in which voice technology will shape the industry. Like other digital tools and services, voice tech offers our industry a new way to expand its offerings, while interacting with current and potential residents like never before. In other words, it will impact both our day-to-day processes and long-term successes.
One way to prioritize voice tech is to optimize all your digital assets for voice search efforts. Though traditional text search remains popular, voice search is quickly becoming the preferred way to locate information across the web. Believe it or not, nearly 50 percent of users turn to voice search when performing routine searches online, and almost 60 percent use voice to find local business information.
Begin by thinking like your end-user. People, utilizing voice technology, tend to deliver longer, more conversational commands that extend far beyond the usual two or three-word search queries. Considering that over 40 percent of people talk to their devices like they’re talking to a friend, it’s better to incorporate website verbiage that includes genuine-sounding phrases, colloquialisms, and even long-form content.
Voice search is also hyper-local, meaning your community’s name, address, and phone number should be accurately and consistently displayed on your site and online business listings. Because local search often feeds into social media platforms, give your pages on these channels a little extra TLC as well. Optimizing your profiles with up-to-date photos, floor plans, and contact information will go far in establishing credibility with consumers and search engine crawlers alike.
Yet, voice technology isn’t only useful for pursuing leads. You can capitalize on the immense success of voice tech by integrating it into your leasing strategy. Chatbots, for example, are well-known for their universal ease-of-use and ability to automate traditionally manual – and often time-consuming – processes, like answering common questions potential renters often ask. With a chatbot using Natural Language Processing (NLP) in place, your community can save on labor spend and still be available to answer your leads’ after-hours questions.
Voice will also infiltrate the apartment home itself. Forward-thinking apartment communities will rise to meet customers’ demand for voice tech tools by installing smart appliances, thermostats, and so forth. This timely investment will allow residents to use their favorite smart devices to do everything from turning off the lights to reheating their dinner. Property managers, on the other hand, can use voice technology to encourage their residents to pay rent on-time or report maintenance issues.
The final positive aspect of voice tech is its inclusivity. Without a doubt, this technology will pave the way for a more accessible leasing process. Even before Alexa, Siri, and Cortana devices became household names, voice technology served as a vital aid for those with impaired vision or motor skills. Since the technology has now evolved to encompass more devices and commands, you will add another layer of accessibility to your renter’s journey by investing in voice technology – even benefitting your bottom line in the long-run.
The future is bright for voice technology. Now a necessity for most consumers, voice capabilities have revolutionized search habits, ushered in a new era of chatbots and personal assistants, upgraded certain apartment amenities, and even promoted inclusivity at yet another stage of the leasing process. Given the endless benefits of voice tech, and the countless others still to surface, it’s clear to see why this type of technology has lasting power within our sector and stands to make apartment leasing and living smoother than ever before.
Kerry W. Kirby is a global entrepreneur, technology innovator, philanthropist, and the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. Over the course of his career, Kerry has been the recipient of an array of highly acclaimed awards, including the esteemed Louisiana Governor's Technology Award. He has been named to the Silicon Bayou 100 List of most influential entrepreneurs for nine consecutive years and has received a prestigious Titan Entrepreneur Award for his technological achievements. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has appeared on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media platforms and outlets. He has contributed to an array of articles and studies on the convergence of technology in the rental housing industry.
Kerry serves on the Board of Advisors of Rainbow, a national nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for affordable housing communities across the country, as well as the Board of Advisors of the Multifamily Women’s Summit, an event that allows women to strengthen their expertise, influence, and professional network in the multifamily housing industry. He is Chair of Technology Initiatives for the Multifamily Innovation Advisory Council, a private, members only group focused on assisting owners and operators of multifamily communities identify pain points and explore innovative solutions that will drive change across the industry.