Building Bots for Messenger – Tips from the Experts: Trulia

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We’re kicking off a series highlighting some of the top experiences on the Messenger platform. These businesses and developers have approached Messenger in a unique and interesting way, and are seeing success during the early stages of the Messenger platform. Next up is Trulia, an online residential real estate site.

In 100 words or less describe what your bot does.

Whether you’re looking to buy or rent, Trulia helps make finding a home easy and enjoyable. Because the rentals market is a competitive one, and consumers need to move fast to land a rental, we designed the Trulia bot for Messenger to give consumers daily updates on new rental listings that match their criteria.

Once the bot is launched, consumers can immediately engage with it by typing in their search criteria. Following their request, the bot sends 10 listings, complete with detailed property information, photos, and local Information, including nearby crime and census statistics. If consumers save searches, they receive daily listing updates.

Who are you trying to reach?

Trulia bot for Messenger can help renters all over the United States find their next home, no matter their search criteria.

What’s the killer feature/interaction?

Renters are always hungry for fresh listings, so we were sure to enable daily updates with the Trulia bot. If a consumer saves a search, they will receive updates with 10 new listings that match their criteria every day at 9 a.m. local time.

Additionally, at Trulia, we believe that what’s in a neighborhood is just as important as what’s in a home, so the Trulia bot provides consumers with local insights. Ask the bot for local info, and consumers will immediately see a quick summary of the crime stats and interesting demographic details, like median age, number of people who are single and married in the area, and how many homes in the neighborhood are renter-occupied or owner-occupied.

How did you go about designing your bot?

Above all else, the team behind the Trulia bot for Messenger wanted to make sure to provide consumers with an intuitive and easy experience. With many of us on the team already active chat bot users, we arrived at an experience that capitalizes on the chat platform’s strengths.

For instance, with our bot, consumers can simply enter a location to get immediate results. If they prefer, they can also specify the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and their maximum rental price. We also wanted to allow a few simple actions after the consumer receives results back, to help them make informed decisions on where to live, and ensure we keep them in the know on new rentals that hit the market.

What have you learned since launching? Any surprises or successes you want to share?

The Trulia bot team learned to always be up-to-date on the documentation of the APIs used by the bot, and to keep iterating based on new Messenger features, and user interactions and responses.

What will you build next?

Trulia is always looking for new opportunities and innovations to help consumers in their house hunting journey. As a data-driven company, we will continue to improve our experience as per usage statistics and consumer feedback.

Why Messenger?

This project was born out of Trulia’s internal Innovation Week (or hack week), with the team wanting to help further simplify the rental search experience and share Trulia’s services with the one billion users on the Messenger platform. Creating a bot seemed like another great way to accomplish this. With the bot, Trulia can push new listings to consumers in a stream that they can engage with as they see fit, and on a platform they’re already using.


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