An app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to deal with the property management queries that can drain an agent’s resources is going through its paces with 20 property firms including Savills and JLL, The Negotiator can reveal.
Called AskPorter, the mobile-phone based app answers the day-to-day questions that property managers get asked using a chat bot.
It also uses a digital ticketing system to assign maintenance and emergency queries directly to the relevant professionals such as electricians or plumbers without the need for human intervention.
The chat bot is connected to an AI brain that has been taught to understand the different queries and syntax that tenants use, and then use this to work out if they need just information or physical help.
For example, if a tenant asks “when is my rent due?” or “can I have pets?”, then AskPorter can answer these questions on the spot.
But if a tenant reports a leaking tap or broken lock then they are put in touch with an approved plumber or locksmith immediately via the messaging service, with whom tenants can share pictures of the problem.
Co-founded by Tom Shrive and Sam Tassell, AskPorter is being funded by venture capital firm Pi Labs whose roster of dot coms includes eMoov and Trussle.
The pair have spent 18 months getting the property management app ready, which is now available as a Beta for the invited client agents, and will be available to a wider audience in October.
“We believe this is what many tenants want – an easy-to-use and instant-messaging based service – and hence the name of the app. The idea is that every tenant in the UK will eventually have their own personal porter.
“Human relationships will remain key in the property business, but why waste human resource on tasks a machine assistant can do when they can be adding much greater value elsewhere?”.
Tom says AskPorter came about because, while he was working in California for a tech business, his mother decided to retire from running her modest property portfolio.
After looking at the available CRM-based property management software and other tech solutions available, Tom and Sam realised there was a gap in the market.
“I thought that there must be some way to marry today’s chat bot and machine learning technology to bring a solution to this area for the property manager and owner, but also the tenant too,” says Tom.
“I think there has been a mismatch in the property market [between property managers and tenants] for a while because too many people see tenants as a liability, which is a bit of a shame because these people are hungry for a better, concierge style service.”
“AskPorter can deliver this. We believe it’s more responsive day-to-day property management.”