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NLP, like AR VR, is making a comeback in real estate: Mahindra Lifespaces

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Mahindra Lifespaces, the real estate infrastructure arm of Mahindra group, along with the growth of its business, focuses on timely deliveries of its projects while keeping construction costs in check. In line with this objective, it partnered with a niche real estate vendor partner to implement a Project Lifecycle Management solution that provides a singular platform to all its operations functions such as planning, scheduling, procurement, quality, safety and most importantly, execution or construction.

“Mahindra Lifespaces established a robust digital sales platform to augment existing distribution channels in November 2019. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are now ready with a ‘Digital only’ sales model and our next launches will happen on this platform,” says, Abhinav Aggarwal, Head- IT, Mahindra Lifespaces.

“We have incorporated a Virtual Call Centre (VCC) solution for our CRM team so that our booked customers can continue reaching out to their relationship managers who are now working from home. The VCC capability was implemented keeping this exact flexibility in mind and our decision has held us in good stead in the current times,” Aggarwal informs.

Constructing capabilities

Significant additions have been made to Mahindra Lifesapces’ analytics capabilities across the organisation, especially its business development, sales and servicing processes via the Salesforce platform; and finance & HR functions via the QlikView platform.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing digital transformation trajectory of Mahindra Lifespaces.  “My team and I operate with a simple philosophy called ENABLE – Enhanced New Age Business Lifecycle Experience – a philosophy I had adopted early on in my career and which still resonates with me. In my opinion, technology is best adopted when it is viewed as answering two questions; firstly, what is in it for the customer? And secondly, what is in it for the employee?  We use these two yardsticks in all technology discussions at Mahindra Lifespaces and the rest is simple,” Aggarwal claims.

Building tech storeys

Mahindra Lifespaces has made substantial headway in digital sales over the past few months.  Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have been widely used in enabling the digital real estate experience for customers.  “However, despite the initial buzz created by AR & VR, most developers were not able to use these technologies in a sustained manner. However, AR is now witnessing a resurgence as a critical component in digital sales, with convenience benefits for home buyers who prefer to experience the proposed development online.  Our soon to be launched ‘Digital Only’ platform will have a well-integrated AR walkthrough as well,” Aggarwal adds.

The company is also incorporating AR in the handover process of finished apartments by making it possible for customers to measure the total areas of their apartments and enable interior-design planning, all on an AR application.

Aggarwal also points out four ways to look at setting up the right skill set to complement the technologies. “Firstly, the way the technology vertical has been structured reflects the skillsets we are trying to create and promote. Second, we are working with a lot of technology start-ups since they are not just the first movers but also the best teachers. Mahindra Leadership University (MLU), the M&M group’s leadership development program, offers training programs by qualified and leading industry faculty. Finally, we consciously hire resources from IT/ITeS and consulting organizations,” he explains.

Estate of real hyper personalisation

Hyper-personalisation has been missing in Indian real estate since time immemorial. Carpet bombing via SMSs and emails has typically been the order of the day.  Mahindra Lifespaces, realised how the cost of new acquisitions can easily be reduced with personalised messaging to prospective customers.

Mahindra Lifespaces has used specialised marketing automation applications to create customer journeys and customer segments which have enabled more focused and targeted outreach and meaningful discussions with prospective home buyers.

NLP space is seeing a revival during COVID times

Chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) caught on very quickly and then died an even faster death. However NLP, like AR and VR, is making a comeback in a more meaningful way now.

“Interested home buyers want to experience a new real estate project virtually.  They want to be able to ask free-flowing questions and not just in English but in their own regional language. Real estate developers are realising how important it is to meet the requirements of such customers beyond enabling inquiry forms on websites.  Having said this, the success of any NLP program depends less on the application and more on a patient and sustained effort over a period of time for the bot to learn how to answer free-flowing questions. It’s always advisable to introduce NLP on various digital platforms once you have achieved some traction with menu-based chat options. Jumping directly to NLP would be a conscious decision while ensuring dedicated monitoring of chat-analytics and continuous corrections leading to bot-learning/machine learning,” concludes Aggarwal.

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